On day 9 of the hearing in the hijab ban matter before the Karnataka High Court, the College Development Committee (CDC) submitted that education is secular activity in which religion has no role to play..Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for the CDC, argued,"If they are getting public instruction from the State, they cannot insist on wearing religious attire even if they show it is essential religious practice."He also stated that interference of religion in secular education should be kept to a minimum..Arguments were made before the Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi in a batch of petitions filed by Muslim girl students in the State claiming that they were not being allowed to attend classes on account of the government order (GO) which effectively bans the wearing of hijab (headscarves)..Senior Advocate SS Naganand, appearing for a government pre-university college, continued his arguments on whether prescription of uniform in educational institutions violates the freedom to practice religion. He told the Court that uniform has been compulsory in these colleges since 2004.He said that some persons from an organisation called Campus Front of India (CFI) started going to schools, insisting that Muslim girls be allowed to wear hijab, after which the students refused to attend classes without hijab. On CFI, he said,"It is an organization spearheading this drum beating of hijab agitation. It is not an educational organisation or representative of students. It is some organisation which comes and creates this commotion."When the Court asked if there was information on this organisation, Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi said that he would place the same before the Court in a sealed cover.Naganand further argued that reports on ill-treatment of Muslim girl students by making them remove the headscarves were baseless."The petition says the threat was that the students will be marked absent. What is the threat there? If they don't come to school they have to be marked absent. It says threats were made to not reward internal marks, that never happened, these are bald allegations," he added.He went on to discuss the import of "public order" as an exception to the right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution, saying,"A democratic body has taken the decision on it which has representatives of all. They have taken the decision that for public order in a school there should be uniformity in the attire. It is not necessary that order comes only from disorder."The Senior Advocate then cited four Supreme Court judgments in which it was held that peaceful existence cannot be threatened by someone else's right to exercise religion. Concluding his arguments, he said,"See now, due to this, a right wing faction of Hindus are saying they will wear saffron scarves. Tomorrow, Mohammedan boys will say they want to wear skullcap, where does this end, are we going to polarise society like this?".Poovayya was next to make arguments. He addressed the petitioners' concerns that a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) was part of the CDC, submitting,"The Committee is only presided by the MLA and the MLA may or may not belong to the political dispensation which is power during the relevant time. The MLA does not sit as a member of any party."He argued that the right to wear a religious symbol or dress is protected by Article 25, and not Article 19(1)(a), which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression."Freedom of conscience is absolute. However, the right to practice, profess to propagate, how you manifest religion is subject to Article 25(2)," he said..Citing provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, Poovayya said that a secular outlook should be promoted in schools, and that they were moving toward a gender-neutral uniform for all students.At this point, Justice Khazi asked whether he was referring to an all-girls school. "It is all girls education and all of them did not insist on hijab till December 2021, when this issue erupted," replied Poovayya.Poovayya further submitted that if students are allowed to wear religious attire, the secular nature of the schools would be affected."I have 100 Muslim children in my school. 5 want to wear hijab. If I allow them, then will it mean the remaining 95 will be considered irreligious and only those wearing hijab are religious? Then where is cohesion and public order?"He further said that students cannot be discriminated based on religion. "I cannot permit a Hindu child to wear a religious symbol but disallow a Muslim child from wearing religious symbol. Because Muslim child is wearing hijab we now have a situation where Hindu child is saying he wants to wear saffron scarf. Where is the end to it," Poovayya asked.He concluded his arguments, saying,"Even assuming it (hijab) is an essential religious practice, as a school, I am obligated under the Constitution to ensure that no religious symbol enters the school and I have this right under Article 25(2), especially as a public school.".Because Muslim child is wearing hijab we now have a situation where Hindu child is saying he wants to wear saffron scarf. Where is the end to it.Sajan Poovayya.The Court will continue hearing the matter for the tenth day at 2:30 PM on Thursday. Chief Justice Awasthi also made it clear that the Bench would not hear arguments by intervenors, who were given liberty to submit their written submissions."We cannot hear this matter for six months," the CJ said..On Tuesday, the State argued that deeming wearing of hijab as an essential religious practice of Islam would compel Muslim women to wear a particular dress.The Advocate General also contended that the stand of the petitioners that the right to wear hijab is part of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a), and was part of their right to religion under Article 25 was "mutually destructive.""If their argument is accepted, then persons who do not wish to wear it would have fundamental right not to wear it. That means element of option is there...You cannot argue both Article 25 and Article 19(1)(a)...They are mutually destructive.".[Hijab row] Women cannot be subjected to compulsion to wear any dress: State to Karnataka High Court.The petitioners - Muslim girl students from various colleges in Karnataka - approached the High Court after they were denied permission to attend classes on account of wearing hijab. Among the grounds cited in the petition is that the freedom of conscience and the right to religion are both guaranteed by the Constitution, despite which the students were singled out arbitrarily for belonging to the Islamic faith.Further, the manner in which they were ousted created a stigma against them, affecting their mental health as well as their future prospects, it was submitted. It was also claimed that wearing of hijab was an essential part of Islam and enjoys protection under Article 25(1) of the Constitution, which confers the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.On February 10, the Court had passed an interim order barring students from wearing hijab, saffron shawls (bhagwa) or use any religious flags while attending classes in Karnataka colleges, till the matter is decided.Most recently, a plea was filed before the High Court against more than 60 media houses seeking directions to restrain them from chasing and videographing students and teachers who are on their way to schools and colleges wearing hijab.Another plea alleged that the hijab controversy in the State is a creation of "tool kit" which has plans to create disturbance and anarchy and in the country and bring down the government in power at the Centre.