In the hijab ban hearing on Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court was asked why only Muslim girl students were being targeted for not following the uniform prescribed by the State' colleges..Making his submissions on behalf of one of the petitioners, Senior Advocate Ravivarma Kumar said that while religious symbols of other religions are not barred, only Muslim girls have been singled out. "If there are 100 symbols, why is the government picking on only hijab?...Bangles are worn. Why only pick on these poor Muslims girls?"While referring to Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, Kumar argued,"Goonghat is permitted, bangles are permitted, Why not ban on crucifix of Christians. Why not turban of Sikhs?".The Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Muslim girl students in the State claiming that they were not being allowed to enter colleges on account of the government order (GO) which effectively bans the wearing of hijab (headscarves)..Continuing from where he left off yesterday, Kumar referred to Rule 11 of Karnataka Education Rules, 1995, which provides that when an educational institution intends to change the uniform, it has to give a notice to parents one year in advance. He also drew the Bench's attention to a document issued by a government department which stated that no Principal of a pre-university (PU) college shall endorse uniform, and that the Principal shall be proceeded against if he insists on uniform.Prof Kumar also pointed out that neither the provisions under the Act or under the Rules prescribe any uniform. "There is no prohibition to wear hijab under the Act or under the Rules," he added.In response to this, Justice Dixit said,"Because these are not spoken of in the Act, need not mean it might be permitted. It is true that it does not say hijab should be permitted or not permitted. But it has to be independently argued.""I am only saying, there is no prohibition against hijab. Therefore the question is under what authority am I kept out of the class? Under what Rule? Who has authorized such an act?" Kumar replied..His next contention was that the college development committee, which issued the government order effectively banning the wearing of hijab, was not constituted to deal with students welfare or students discipline. It was only for academic standards, Kumar argued.Chief Justice Awasthi then said,"Can't the college prescribe uniforms to maintain academic standards? Why can't it be for maintaining uniformity, discipline, uniforms are necessary? It can be a part of academic standards.""It has no connection with academic standards. Academic standards deal with student teacher ratio, curriculum, syllabus, the way classes are conducted etc. It can't by any stretch of imagination [include] prescribing police power over students," was Kumar's response.Justice Dixit chimed in, "What is this police powers...Prescribing it in educational institutions cannot be termed as police power. It is parental power. Judicial opinion is also contrary to what you are saying."Kumar clarified that the point he was trying to make was that CDC did not have the authority to prescribe uniforms. In the context of the CDC being headed by a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Kumar submitted,"It would be a deathblow to give an MLA administrative power. An MLA, whoever he may be, will be representing a political party or ideology. Can you entrust the welfare of students to a political party or political ideology?".On the government order (GO) issued in Karnataka, he said,"Here it is full of prejudice because of religion, no notice. We are made to sit out of classroom by persons who have no authority whatsoever under the Act."When Justice Dixit asked Kumar if he was suggesting that there should no be any uniform prescribed, the Senior Advocate said,"Unity in diversity should be the motto, plurality should be preserved...If people wearing a turban can be in the Army, why can't a person wearing her religious symbol be allowed to attend classes? This is a draconian measure."He concluded his arguments by saying that if Muslim girls are kept out of classrooms, it would spell doom for their education..Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchhala was next to make submissions for one of the petitioners. He submitted that the interim order suffers from manifest arbitrariness and is hit by Article 14. He argued,"Fairness requires that notice should be given. Is it a fair procedure? On the ground of fairness they should have been heard."He further said that Article 25(1) of the Constitution confers upon citizens the right of conscience. Thus, it is not necessary to go into the question whether the belief held by that person is a part of essential religious practice, he concluded..Arguments will continue on Thursday, February 17 at 2:30 pm..On Tuesday, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat concluded his submissions on behalf of one of the petitioners. He pointed out that the secularism practiced in India was different to that of Turkey, which had imposed a ban on wearing of hijab in public places."Our secularism is positive secularism where State plays an enabling role to exercise fundamental rights and religious freedoms of all communities. It recognises all religions as true," he said..[Hijab ban] We are not Turkey which says no religious symbols can be displayed in public: Petitioner 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."It hardly needs to be mentioned that ours is a country of plural cultures, religions & languages. Being a secular State, it does not identify itself with any religion as its own. Every citizen has the right to profess & practise any faith of choice, is true. However, such a right not being absolute is susceptible to reasonable restrictions as provided by the Constitution of India," the Court noted.