Karnataka: Student moves HC against ban on hijab in govt college
A Muslim student on Monday filed a writ petition in Karnataka high court (HC) challenging the decision of the Government Pre-University College in Udupi to bar six students from attending classes for wearing hijab.
The petition was filed by one of the six students through a lawyer. In the petition, the student argued that wearing hijab is a fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 14 and 25 of the Constitution of India and is essential for practising her religion.
The petition comes more than a month after the six students were barred from entering classes for violating the uniform code of the college. The petition filed by advocates Shathabish Shivanna, Arnav A Bagalwadi and Abhishek Janardhan states that the college has denied entry and access on the grounds that they were wearing a hijab, while the Constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practise and propagate religion (under Articles 25 and 26).
The petition added that the state has the right to interfere with the religious matter only if it involves an issue relating to public order, morality, and health, which is not the case here. “Protection under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution is not limited to the matters of doctrine. They also extend to acts done in furtherance of religion and therefore they contain a guarantee for rituals and observances, ceremonies and mode of worship, which are an integral part of the religion,” read the petition.
It was argued that the right of women to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under Article 25 (1) when such prescription of dress is an essential part of the religion.
The petition argued that the college’s decision to not allow the student to attend classes for wearing hijab creates a stigma among her batch mates and other students in the college. It was argued that such stigma will affect the mental health of the six students.
“The college has curtailed the right to education of the petitioner on the sole ground of religion.This is discriminatory and politically motivated behaviour. By doing so the state government has failed in its duty to realise the right to human development by denying the petitioner her education,” read the petition.
They sought direction from the HC to ask the college to not interfere with students’ fundamental right to practise their religion, which includes wearing a hijab.