7 teachers suspended for allowing hijab-wearing students to write exams in Karnataka

Updated on Mar 31, 2022 08:11 AM IST

A few right wing organisations claimed the teachers were suspended after they approached authorities over the alleged violation of the government order.

Among those suspended were two teachers in Kalaburagi’s Jewargi Taluk who allegedly allowed students wearing hijab to appear for the exam.(PTI)
Among those suspended were two teachers in Kalaburagi’s Jewargi Taluk who allegedly allowed students wearing hijab to appear for the exam.(PTI)
BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

At least seven teachers across Karnataka have been suspended for allegedly permitting students wearing hijabs to appear for class X board (SSLC) examinations, despite a government order mandating wearing of uniforms after the high court banned religious attire across educational institutions earlier this month.

Addressing reporters here, minister for primary and secondary education B C Nagesh said: “Government has instructed according to the Act, rule and judgement of the High Court. Every government employee has to follow the rule. If it isn’t followed, definitely some action has to be taken and a notice has to be given. We should get information from them and final action should be decided after that. But clearly they have not followed instructions of the government so it (action) has been taken.”

However, these invigilators have not been suspended and only relived of their duties initially. But more action is likely to follow, officials added.

Through a circular issued on March 25, the state government had made uniforms mandatory for students appearing for Class X board (SSLC) examinations, which began on Monday. The circular, issued by the state’s primary and secondary education department, said students of government schools must appear for exams in the uniform prescribed by the state government. In the case of private (aided and unaided) schools, students must wear the uniform prescribed by the respective school management, it added.

Among those suspended were two teachers in Kalaburagi’s Jewargi Taluk who allegedly allowed students wearing hijab to appear for the exam. Similar action was also taken against teachers in Gadag, Bidar and Bengaluru.

“Two invigilators were relived of their duties for allowing students with Hijab into exam halls. Their names have been sent to higher authorities and they will be suspended pending enquiry,” Venkiah Inamdar, the BEO of Jewargi said on Wednesday.

A few right wing organisations claimed the teachers were suspended after they approached authorities over the alleged violation of the government order.

“There were videos of students wearing hijabs being allowed inside exam halls. We raised the matter with the block education officer (BEO) and sought the teacher’s suspension,” Ninganagouda Malipatil, president of Sri Rama Sene’s Jewargi taluka unit, told HT.

While most students across the state complied with the government order, a few others refused to remove their headscarf and did not appear for the exam.

According to the Karnataka primary and secondary education department, out of 869,399 students who enrolled themselves for the SSLC exams, 848,405 appeared for them on the first day on Monday. The government did not provide details on how many students refused to sit for the exam after being denied to wear the hijab.

On March 15, a full bench of the Karnataka high court declared that wearing of hijab is not mandatory in Islam. It upheld the ban on the headscarf imposed by the state government in schools and colleges through a February 5 executive order which led to massive protests and counter-protests across the state and in several other cities across the country.

The high court’s three-judge bench, headed by chief justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, held that the Quran does not mandate wearing of hijab for Muslim women and that the attire “at the most is a means to gain access to public places” and a “measure of social security”, but “not a religious end in itself”.

The high court also favoured a “speedy and effective” investigation into the stoking of the hijab controversy in Karnataka, suspecting some “unseen hands at work to engineer social unrest and disharmony in the state”.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to urgently list a clutch of petitions against the high court ruling, saying cases pertaining to the ban on hijab have nothing to do with school examinations and that the matter should not be sensationalised.

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