Petitioners in the hijab ban case on Monday told the Supreme Court that Karnataka High Court faulted by holding wearing of the headscarf is not an essential practice of Islam, contending that since the court had no expertise in the field, it should not have gone into the issue of whether hijab was an essential religious practice by interpreting the Quran.
Senior advocate Yusuf Mucchala submitted before a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia that human dignity is a constitutionally protected facet and scriptures say people have to observe modesty and wearing of the headscarf may be a personal marker in this context.
He said interpreters and scholars may disagree, but if a woman thinks wearing hijab is right, then she should follow it. “It is not the job of the courts to say follow one and don’t follow the other,” he said.
He added further that the Karnataka High Court used one interpretation of the Quran against another to give a finding on the essentiality of the hijab, which is objectionable.
The bench replied that it had no option, as the petitioners claimed it to be essential religious practice. “What option does the high court have but to point it out? Now you say the high court cannot do this.”
Muchhala said it is only judicial wisdom to not touch a field in which the court has no expertise and the court should have stayed away from it. “When HC encountered the question, it should have said hands off, we cannot look into that,” he said.
He said whether hijab is a fundamental right or not is applicable here and the question here is not about religious denomination but an individual’s fundamental rights.
The apex court was hearing submissions on the fourth day against the Karnataka High Court’s judgement of March 15 upholding ban on hijab in pre-university colleges.
The high court found no infirmity in the state government’s order that virtually banned the wearing of hijab by Muslim girls studying in pre-university colleges.
The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on September 14.