A full-bench of the Karnataka High Court will continue hearing a batch of petitions filed by female Muslim students against the ban on wearing hijab by certain Karnataka colleges.The bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi started hearing the case last Thursday and proceeded to pass an interim order, directing students not to wear hijab, saffron shawls (bhagwa) or use any religious flags while attending classes in Karnataka colleges which have a prescribed uniform in the interim.The petitioners had also filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the interim order but the top court is yet to hear the same.The matter before the High Court was earlier being heard by single-judge Justice Krishna S Dixit who on February 9, referred it to a larger Bench stating that the case involves important issues.Yesterday, Dr Vinod Kulkarni, a petitioner-in-person argued that banning hijab was tantamount to banning the Quran.The hearing will resume at 2.30 PM today when the State government is expected to make its submissions.Read live updates from yesterday's hearing here.Read more on the State’s affidavit before the High Court here.Read more about the petitions before High Court here and here.Live updates from today’s hearing below..Sr. Adv. AM Dar says he has filed petition rectifying errors pointed out by Bench yesterday. Requests that he be heard on Monday. Alright. If special bench continues on Monday next week, we will hear you on Monday: CJ Ritu Raj Awasthi..All main issues have been advanced. Petitioners (remaining) may take 10 min each only so that respondents can start: CJ Awasthi..Sr. adv. Ravivarma Kumar request that the interim application to which State was supposed to respond be heard. Advocate General says response will be filed with registry today. The application is to cover head using dupatta..Kumar also request that livestreaming of case be suspended since students are put to untold hardship and misery. Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi says they have already made their arguments..Let people hear what is the stand of the respondents also: CJ Awasthi Yes: AG Navadgi..Adv. Sirajudin Ahmad making submissions on behalf of petitioners. You are saying some anti-social elements are trying to restrain from wearing hijab. You should lodge an FIR against them: CJ Awasthi..School authorities are not allowing hijab. Before this issue started, they were allowed: Ahmed But this is not your petition. What you are saying is not what you have stated in the petition: CJ Awasthi..After the Court's order now every college is not allowing hijab, even those which used to allow. Your lordships order not clearly understood: Ahmed You have not made the concerned college a party: CJ Awasthi..I have filed an IA to amend the plea and make college a party: Ahmed..Even if application is allowed, where is the averment that colleges are not allowing? Where is compliance with Rule 41: Justice Krishna Dixit..You file a proper petition: CJ Awasthi Please allow me to file a fresh petition: Adv. Ahmed Petitioner permitted to withdraw the petition with liberty to file fresh petition: Court order..Adv Kirti Singh now making submissions on behalf of two petitioners - one a woman's organisation and second a Muslim woman with 3 daughters..She says there was a minor error in that declaration was not filed. We have got the declaration and it will be filed and then it may be heard: Singh There are some office objections as well: CJ Awasthi..We will give you time to make good the office objections: Court Thank you Your Lordships: Singh..Counsel for Karnataka State Minority Educations Institutions Management Federation begins his arguments. Is it a registered body? CJ Awasthi Yes, it was registered in 2006-07: Counsel..Where is the authorisation for the association to file petition on behalf of society? CJ Awasthi I will produce the authorisation: Counsel When we ask then you people say we will produce it: CJ Awasthi..The petition would not be maintainable unless you show resolution of society deciding to file petition and authorising the person to file petition: CJ Awasthi..You are wasting the time of the court: CJ Awasthi Please have it on Monday. I will produce it: Counsel..The Court agrees. Gives time to petitioner to produce resolution of society and authorisation to file the petition..Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi commences arguments on behalf of respondents..As I have understood, the controversy falls into 3 categories. First, the Government Order dated 5.02.2022 has been called into question. I submit it is in consonance with the Karnataka Education Act. .Second is the core issue relating to the practice of hijab as a part of Fundamental Rights under Article 25. We take the stand that hijab is not an essential religious practice of Islam: AG Navadgi..The third is the argument that the right to wear hijab can be traced to Article 19(1)(a) and prevention of the same violates Art 19(1)(a). Our submission is that it does not do so: AG Navadgi..One other aspect the State wants to place before the Court, is that according to us the practice of hijab to be accepted must pass the test of constitutional morality and individual dignity, as expounded in the SC decisions in Sabarimala and Shayara Bano case: AG Navadgi..CJ Awasthi: We would like to know the rationality behind issuing the GO..We want to trace the background of the Government Order. This is centric to Government PU College Udupi. The prescription of uniform has been there for some time, this has been from 2013: AG Navadgi..There was a resolution of the College Development Committee, to change the uniform of the girl students. The endeavour is to show that there was a prescription on uniform in the year 2013-14 itself: AG Navadgi..What is the sanctity of College Development Committee under the scheme of the Act: Justice Dixit So far as how to locate CDC, I will bring it to Court notice with respect to Karnataka Education Act: AG Navadgi..Currently, I am showing factual background and GO: AGNavadgi reading out circular issued by government on how College Development Committee came into existence, its membership..This circular was not challenged? CJ Awasthi No: AG Navadgi..Navadgi referring to CDC resolution of 2018. There was a resolution passed in 2018, about the uniform. It was resolved to maintain the same uniform. The school uniform for girls was prescribed. There was no difficulty that time: AG..There was no difficulty until 2021, when a group of students insisted that they will enter the college wearing a hijab and informed the principal of the same: AG Navadgi..AG confirms this is for an all girls college, not a co-ed institution. 956 girls study there..This led to CDC passing a resolution on January 1, 2022. They wanted to consider this in all earnest and right perspective: AG..The resolution said that since 1985 till date, uniforms have been worn by all students and no question was raised about it: AG..The college is only for women and uniform was implemented for discipline. Parents were requested to send their children to college only in the uniform: AG Navadgi..After this resolution came to be passed, they (Muslim students) continued with the insistence and did not adhere to resolution: AG Navadgi..When the Government was intimated of the sensitivity of the issue, we said we would constitute a High Level Committee to examine various issues and court judgments. Until then, we asked to maintain status quo: AG Navadgi..On 25.01.22, another resolution was passed by the College Development Committee. It was decided that status quo should be followed. There was a plea to parents that please follow uniform as it was before: AG Navadgi..Interestingly, after this resolution was passed this present writ petition was filed. That time, the GO was not there: AG Navadgi..In the institution unrest continued, which led to another resolution by the College Development Committee on 31st January. In this resolution they say children should not wear hijab and if parents send girls with hijab disciplinary action will be taken: AG Navadgi..This resolution is not under challenge before this court or any other forum: AG Navadgi..By then State Govt was flooded about this issue spreading to other institutions. The intervention of State was called for. It was being projected as if the State was doing something about this matter and intervening in this matter: AG Navadgi..The protests and unrests went on. It is with that background that the impugned Order has been passed: AG Navadgi..One of the submissions we make is that this GO is innocuous in nature and does not affect any of the petitioners rights: AG Navadgi..Justice Dixit had made an observation that orders must be read as they are, as a plain reading and not as a statute. I cannot put it in a better manner than what Your Lordships have said: AG Navadgi..The operative part of the GO is that the State Govt has ordered that in govt schools, students will wear the uniform that Govt has prescribed. In respect of private schools they will wear what the pvt school has prescribed: AG Navadgi..Has govt prescribed? CJ Awasthi We have wrt govt schools. Govt under Vidya Vikas scheme in fact gives free uniforms: AG Navadgi..First portion is only for schools. So far as PUC colleges are concerned, the uniform prescribed by the CDC of the respective college should be followed: AG Navadgi..State is not interfering. We are only saying whatever CDC has prescribed, should be followed: AG Navadgi..In the event that the CDC does not fix a uniform, student should wear a dress which is equal, decent. The draftsman has become enthusiastic and said public order: AG Navadgi..The question of proscribing or prescribing hijab does not arise. The State has given complete autonomy to the CDC and to private management for private colleges: AG Navadgi..They have unnecessarily dragged us into this issue: AG Navadgi..CJ Awasthi: What is the background of the GO? What was the necessity of all this? AG: The necessity was because of the resolutions passed by the CDC..The GO is innocuous. But come to the earlier part of this GO where you have said consider these judgments about hijab. What was the necessity to say all this: CJ Awasthi You are suggesting something: Justice Dixit..If we accept your argument that GO is very innocuous...: CJ AwasthiThat is the stand of the State. The State has consciously kept itself away from this, we have given autonomy to the college can decide: AG..So if the College Dev Committee permits students to wear hijab, you have no objection: CJ Awasthi..State has revisionary powers under Section 131. If in future some student or authority with a grievance that it might result in something, we may or may not take a decision: AG..If the para of GO gives indication that hijab should be banned or proscribed, then I will clarify that it is not the purport of the order: AG..You have not stated it in so many words. But how will commoner interpret it - parents, teachers, students, members of CDC. How will they interpret it: Justice Dixit..AG Navadgi: The State leaves it to the CDC to decide the issue. Justice Dixit: But you have not left that option..It is the stated stand of the State, we did not want to intervene: AG Navadgi..What was the necessity to mention all this in GO (on hijab): CJ Awasthi By the order, we have not instructed but have left it to autonomy: AG..Can the colleges ignore that part of GO (on hijab) and take a decision: AG State has left to completely left to autonomy of CDC. That para of GO also records only judgments: AG maintains..CJ Awasthi: We want to know the necessity of placing these judgments. AG: On better advice, that could have been avoided. CJ: It appears they do not take your advice (CJ and AG laughs)..The claim that GO discriminates against Muslim women has communal basis, all of it are absolutely without basis: AG Navadgi..AG Navadgi: The attack on the GO that it is irrational, discriminates against Muslim women is baseless. On a plain reading it does not affect anyone's rights..AG Navadgi: Sr Adv. Kamath submitted the Order suffers from non application of mind. He said the judgments are not relevant..I would request not to digress into it. Our submission is govt officer sometimes record all this, over enthusiasm: AG Navadgi..One argument by Ravivarma Kumar is CDC is an extra statutory body and hence giving them power to fix uniform is without jurisdiction: AG Navadgi..Wasn't the GO premature? On one hand you are saying a High Level committee is to be constituted than on the other hand you issue these GOs: CJ Awasthi..The govt considering exigencies issue these orders under Section 133. These are unusual situation which came up: AG Navadgi..G Navadgi: Refers to Karnataka Education Act, Preamble. It is an unusual Act. Reads preamble..AG Navadgi: The Act is to cultivate scientific and secular outlook and build students into better citizens.AG refers to definition of 'recognised education institution' under Section of Act..A private educational institution has to seek formal recognition from the Govt. Section 36 is for recognition of private institutions. Section 38 is for educational institutions established and run by the State: AG Navadgi..AG Navadgi: For a Govt. PU college there is no Managing Committee. Somebody has to fix the uniform. So to give effect to this we use Section 133(2) of the Karnataka Education Act..AG reads outs Section 133 of the Karnataka Education Act. .We had to put this rule into operation. What is interesting, the college has not called into questioned this order. None of the colleges have come before court saying this is without authority: AG Navadgi..It is students have come before the Court saying that it is without authority. The challenge should fail on that ground alone: AG..CJ Awasthi: The circular of 2014 which you showed for constitution of CDC has been issued by an undersecretary. Can it be treated as a direction under Section 133?.It is not a GO or a notification, it is a circular: CJ Awasthi Normally it carries an approval of minister: AG Navadgi That is what we want to know: CJ Awasthi I will place that: AG..There is a representative character wrt CDC. There cannot be something better than this. Local MLA, parents, students representatives, members from SC/ST etc. It represents various groups: Navadgi..One argument by Ravivarma Kumar MLA should not take part. We have borrowed Westminster model not american model of keeping executive completely away: AG Navadgi..AG says no restriction on MLA being member. Their argument was that MLA is a political character. Should that character be involved in the administration of an institution: Justice Dixit..We are pained at the way the Government has been berated in these proceedings and how it is alleged we are dictated by some other reasons and that we are discriminating against girls and women. With absolute humility we say, State believes in treating everyone equally: AG..Justice Dixit: If the MLA and his nominee are holding President and VP positions in the Committee, what role do the others have to play. .AG Navadgi: It is a matter which could be debated either way. The GO does not contradict anyone's rights so the challenge has to fail..Now we come to second part which is hijab is not essential religious practice: AG Navadgi..Before that the manner in which the challenge has been made should be noted. There is a provision under the Act that students can give a representation to the Parent-Teacher Committee. Nobody has done that, they have come straight to Court: Navadgi..You mean to say GO should be challenged before PT committee? Justice Dixit. No, not the GO but the grievance about not permitting hijab: AG Navadgi..The second issue is about hijab being part of essential religious practice. It has been said by petitioners that it is essential, does not go against public order, morality of health so should be protected by Article 25(1): AG Navadgi..CJ Awasthi: There was one argument by Sr. Adv Yusuf that even if it not essential religious practice, then also stopping hijab would violate Article 25(1) as it is also freedom of conscience..AG reads out Article 25. It starts with "subject to"...None of the fundamental rights starts with a non-obstante clause: AG Navadgi.Art 25(1) does not speak about any law to be made by the State. Articles 19(1) and 25(2) provides for law to be made State but the same is conspicuously absent in 25(1): AG Navadgi..AG Navadgi: So, if someone is to assert freedom of 25(1), the Court may have to examine whether it is in conflict of public order, morality or health. It should also be examined whether it comes into conflict with any other fundamental rights..In the event of conflict, first test is the religious practice will give way to the three things in Article 25(1) and second test is to find out whether it conflicts with other fundamental rights: AG..During COVID all temples, churches and mosques came to be closed for so many months, for reasons of health. They are the essence of religion. But they were closed for health reasons: AG Navadgi..Is 25(2) in the nature of an exception to Article 13(2): Justice Dixit.We are dealing with the most sacred aspect of the Constitution. Please allow me to get back on this: AG Navadgi..AG Navadgi: Art 25(2) also speaks of freedom of conscience and right to practise religion. What is freedom of conscience? Durga Das Basu talks about this..AG relies on DD Basu to say conscience and practice are two different things. That distinction is thin but real. Therefore, they use the word freedom of conscience but right to practice: AG..One can be highly irreligious but may be conscientious and other way round: Justice Dixit Yes: AG..As has been pointed out before, Article 25(1) has two parts - a) freedom of conscience and b) right to profess practice and propagate. There may be persons who do not believe in religion and believe only in earthly life. They have a right to "not believe"..Justice Dixit: You mean to say freedom of conscience is confined to atheists? AG: Certainly not..Justice Dixit: How to ascertain conscience? I say saluting a symbol is contrary to my conscience? AG: Assert or ascertain? Justice Dixit: Ascertain..When Dr Ambedkar introduced this, some of the members opposed. They introduced it as right to propagate religion. The argument against it was if this power is given, then there is possibility of one religion being hegamonised over others: AG Navadgi..Dr Ambedkar intervened and said it wont, we also have freedom of conscience: AG Navadgi..CJ Awasthi: Does hijab constitute right to essential religious practice? The answer is no: AG Navadgi..Advocate Tahir: The interim order of Court said it is confined to colleges where CDC has prescribed uniform. But State has extended this order to all the schools, degree colleges and not just govt institutions with uniforms..Muslim community is facing so much difficulty due to the order. Every department interpreting order differently. It is being to Urdu schools, etc where only muslims attend this order is being enforced: Adv..The purpose of order was to ensure law and order but it is creating such situation. Police personnel are being deployed to threaten and intimidate Muslim women, to remove their burkha and scarf: Adv..Let them give me details. We will instruct suitably to ensure nobody acts beyond Your Lordship's interim order: AG Navadgi.