New Delhi, July 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear next week appeals challenging the Karnataka High Court's order, which upheld the state government's decision to ban wearing hijabs in school and college classrooms.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said it would list the matter next week before the appropriate Bench after advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the matter saying the petitions have not been listed since March.
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Some of the petitioners before the Karnataka High Court have approached the Supreme Court challenging the order upholding the Karnataka government's order which directed strict enforcement of schools and colleges' uniform rules.
One of the appeals in the top court has alleged "step-motherly behaviour of government authorities which has prevented students from practising their faith and resulted in an unwanted law and order situation".
The appeal said the High Court in its impugned order "had vehemently failed to apply its mind and was unable to understand the gravity of the situation as well as the core aspect of the Essential Religious Practices enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India". "Wearing of Hijab or headscarf is a practice that is essential to the practice of Islam," it has added.
The Karnataka High Court in March had held that the prescription of uniforms is a reasonable restriction that students could not object to and dismissed various petitions challenging a ban on hijab in education institutions saying they are without merit.
The hijab row erupted in January this year when Government PU College in Udupi allegedly barred six girls wearing the hijab from entering. Following this, the girls sat in protest outside college over being denied entry.
After this, boys of several colleges in Udupi started attending classes wearing saffron scarves. This protest spread to other parts of the state as well leading to protests and agitations in several places in Karnataka.
As a result, the Karnataka Government said all students must adhere to the uniform and banned both hijab and saffron scarves till an expert committee decided on the issue.
On February 5, the pre-university education board released a circular stating that the students could only wear the uniform approved by the school administration and no other religious attire would be allowed in colleges.
The order stated that in case a uniform is not prescribed by management committees, then students should wear dresses that go well with the idea of equality and unity, and do not disturb the social order.
A batch of appeals was filed against the government's rule in the Karnataka High Court by some girls seeking permission to wear hijab in educational institutions.
On February 10, the High Court issued an interim order stating that students should not wear any religious attire to classes till the court issues the final order. The hearings related to the hijab case were concluded on February 25 and the court had reserved its judgment.