The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on a batch of petitions challenging a ban on the hijab, which is worn by Muslim women, in schools and colleges of Karnataka.
“In light of the divergence of opinion, the matter has to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions,” the bench said while reading out the operational part of the judgement.
In March this year, the Karnataka high court upheld the BJP government’s order which banned the hijab in schools and colleges, observing that wearing a headscarf is not essential to Islam.
As many as 26 appeals were filed against the high court order in the Supreme Court.
On Thursday morning, while Justice Gupta dismissed all the petitions and upheld the high court order, Justice Dhulia quashed the state government’s order and set aside the HC judgement.
In his judgement, Justice Dhulia said the high court was wrong in upholding the Karnataka government order and observed that it was a matter of choice, not a religious practice.
“It is ultimately a matter of choice and Article 14 and 19 (of the Constitution). It is a matter of choice, nothing more and nothing less,” observed Justice Dhulia.
He further said, “Are we making her life any better? That was a question in my mind.”
In February this year, the Basavaraj Bommai government issued an order, putting restrictions on wearing headscarves by students on the premises of all schools and colleges in the state.
Soon after the order, huge protests broke out in several parts of Karnataka with Dakshina Kannada being the epicentre. Several Islamic outfits like the student wing of the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI), Campus Front of India (CFI) jumped in, arguing that it was the constitutional rights of Muslim girls and women.