Hijab row: Karnataka High Court refers case to larger bench

Amid continuing tensions over wearing of hijab by a section of students in the state, a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court, hearing petitions in the matter, on Wednesday referred the case to a larger bench.

“This is a fit case for inquiry by the Chief Justice. The bench of the Chief Justice has the authority to form an extended bench to hear the case.

“This matter needs urgent hearing, submit complaints and documents to the bench of Chief Justice,” Justice Krishna S. Dixit said.

The decision on interim order regarding uniform and wearing of hijab shall also be taken by the Chief Justice, he added.

“There are questions related to the Constitution, there are aspects related to personal laws. Half a dozen court verdicts have been discussed. I have verified more than 12 orders in this regard. There are arguments and counter-arguments related to the case. Let the Chief Justice decide on handing over the matter to an extended bench,” Justice Dixit said.

Soon after the hearing resumed, the bench told the petitioners that if they agree, the matter would be handed over to the extended bench.

“I have verified the documents submitted regarding the case. There is a necessity to hand over the case to an extended bench.”

However, counsel for the students requested the bench to give interim order as only two months are left for this academic year. They sought an order on Wednesday only so that students could go to colleges.

Advocate General Prabhuling Navadagi, appearing for the government, submitted that everyone is looking forward to the court’s ruling. He also prayed against an interim order as it would amount to acceptance of the petition submitted.

Stating that he appreciates the sensitivity of the court, he contended that every institution has autonomy and it is the duty of the students to come in uniform.

“Wearing of hijab is not a fundamental religious practice of Islam. Other court benches have clarified this. While many nations have banned wearing of hijab in public places, several colleges in the country have banned hijab on the premises,” he said.

The students have questioned the decision of the government. The government has provided power to the college authorities to take decisions, the government counsel submitted.




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