The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of appeals challenging a Karnataka High Court verdict that effectively upheld the ban on wearing hijab in government schools and colleges [Fathima Bushra vs State of Karnataka].The Karnataka High Court had on March 15 upheld a Karnataka government order (GO) effectively empowering college development committees of government colleges in the State to ban the wearing of hijab (headscarves) by Muslim girl students in college campus.The petitioners - Muslim girl students from various colleges in Karnataka - had approached the High Court after they were denied permission to attend classes on account of wearing hijab.A three-judge Bench of then Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi had held that:- Hijab is not a part of essential religious practices of Islam;- Requirement of uniform is a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a);- The government has the power to pass the GO; no case is made out for its invalidation.One of the pleas before the top court has argued that the High Court "failed to note that the right to wear a Hijab comes under the ambit of ‘expression’ and is thus protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution."It has also contended that the High Court failed to take note of the fact that the right to wear Hijab comes under the ambit of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.During the hearing on September 5, the top court had asked the appellants whether students can come wearing whatever they choose to in a government institution which has a prescribed uniformA Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia also remarked that the Karnataka government's order allowing college development committees to prescribe uniform did not seem to violate right to education.When the case was heard on September 7, the Court told the petitioners that if right to dress is claimed as an absolute fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution, then right to undress would also qualify as one."We cannot take this to illogical ends.. if you say right to dress is a fundamental right then right to undress also becomes a fundamental right," Justice Gupta said.During the previous hearing on September 8, the Supreme Court told the petitioners that comparing hijab with turbans worn by Sikhs would be improper."There are requirement on turbans. Five-judge bench of this court held that wearing turban and kirpan is essential for Sikhs," Justice Gupta had said.Live updates from the hearing today below..Hearing begins..Justice Gupta tells counsel of request received to let the petitioners finish by Wednesday: We then give two days to the State, and finish. Advocate Ejaz Maqbool: Also a small window for rejoinders. Supreme Court: Yes..Advocate Yusuf Muchhala tells Court that High Court wrongly noted that hijabs were only being worn recently by the students. Adv Muchhala: Please see paragraph 1 of our writ. Bench notes it has only 1 copy..Justice Dhulia: We have it, it's okay. Adv Muchhala: Please turn to paragraph 10. [Reads from plea]..Adv Mucchala: "Previous students till recent years had continued to wear hijab without any hindrance" No denial of these averments by the State, so it's astounding what they say in their pleadings. Justice Dhulia asks about the case no of SLPs..Justice Gupta: What is your argument? Adv Muchhala: We've given instances of people being devoted entry to institutes because of wearing hijab, being denied access to education. Justice Gupta: If these were not before the High Court, we can't take it, but hear the other matters..Justice Gupta: We can't hear this on new grounds. Your point is very well taken. Adv Mucchala: Have a preliminary objection about it not being referred to Constitution Bench, Mr Kamath already elaborated on it so won't repeat his arguments..Adv Muchhala: These are substantial issues, Your Lordships have said we can't argue based on new documents. But we have brought documents by lords about how much the rights of Muslim women to get education, their cultural rights have been hampered. If My Lordships will allow....Justice Gupta: IA in this SLP? Justice Dhulia: Volume 1? Page? Supreme Court: This is not a part of your convenience compilation. Adv Muchhala: Part of my SLP paper book. Bench discusses.Justice Dhulia: Your main ground is it is an essential religious practice? Adv Muchhala: No, my rights of freedom of conscience, privacy, to have access to education. All these are grounds, there must be uniformity or else there will be disorder. Courts must guard the fundamental rights of dignity. Doctrine of proportionality will also come into play there..Adv Muchhala goes through govt records noting status of education of Muslim girl students. Justice Dhulia: This report was not there before the High Court.Adv Muchhala: Yes. We have to see from view of need for awareness of sensitivity. Cultural and religious diversity can be accommodated..Adv Mucchala: If turban can be allowed, I won't put it under discrimination, but tolerance which can be there for hijab also, that won't lead to disharmony. Won't trouble lordships more with these records. Want to read some paragraphs from Puttaswamy..Justice Dhulia: Read just the relevant parts, it's a voluminous judgment. Adv Muchhala: Lordships may permit me to read some paragraphs. Justice Gupta asks for citation, Justice Dhulia says it's the right to privacy judgment..Adv Mucchala: Unfortunately High Court argues that Article 19 (1) and 25 are mutually exclusive. .Justice Dhulia: Please read from the judgment (Puttuswamy judgment).Justice Gupta: Court is only speaking about freedom of conscience and freedom religion. They are not saying articles 25 and 19 are mutually exclusive..Adv Muchhala: Please see the language of the articles. Please see the Article 25.. it was explained that even an atheist is entitled to Freedom of Conscience. Two rights cannot be mutually exclusive but they compliment each other..Adv Muchhala: Puttuswamy judgment says object may be noble but what is impact of the decision. We are nationalists and religious minded people have always been nationalists and the freedom struggle shows that. Thus, state argument that we are all Indians etc goes out. We are Indians.Adv Muchhala: What is the crime these little girls are committing? Putting a piece of cloth on their head. Because of this all rights are denied to them. One who puts hijab must not be looked like a caricature but with dignity..Adv Muchhala: My children, they may or may not wear. Nobody can impose their decisions. Quran says observe modesty to the Muslim women and it is what they seek to follow..Adv Muchhala: Choice of dress, apparel or appearance is also part of privacy..Adv Muchhala: Scholars or interpreters may interpret some way but a lay woman may follow someone and it is not the job of the court to say that why do you follow him or not him. It is not the job of the court Milord..Adv Muchhala: whether hijab is a fundamental right or not is applicable here.. question here is not about religious denomination but an individual's fundamental right. Justice Gupta: Yes, no application of Article 26 only 19 and 25 to see whether you have right to wear hijab in school..Adv Muchhala: High Court has done something highly objectionable. Justice Dhulia: Yes tell us what is objectionable? Adv Muchhala: It has been held that there cannot be any interpretation of this court of the Al Quran or using one interpretation against another. This is what High Court has done..Adv Muchhala: Al Quran is Arabic and the courts in India are equipped to adjudge. Even average Indian Muslim reads Arabic as is without the meaning. Thus, in such cases the court should not embark upon the exercise of interpreting Quran..Justicer Dhulia: You went to court and said this is an essential religious practice and what option does High Court has but to point it out. Now you say high court cannot do this. Adv Muchhala: It must have been pointed out due to over enthusiasm..Justice Gupta: But the constitution cannot work in vacuum, Mr Muchhala Justice Dhulia: This is the main point of the case. It is you who pointed ERP to the bench..Adv Muchhala: It is only judicial wisdom to not touch a field in which they have no expertise. High Court when encountered with ERP should have said hands off we cannot look into that..Justice Hemant Gupta: Thank you, Mr Muchhala. Adv Muchhala: I will take 5 mins more. I hope I am not taxing you. Justice Gupta: You are eating into Mr Salman Khurshid's time. Adv Muchhala: I hope he is not looking at the watch. Justice Gupta: But he is looking at you.Muchhala concludes..Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid: There is no binary like obligatory and non obligatory in Islam. What is in Quran is obligatory and what the prophet interpreted it is also obligatory. This is a critical thing to keep in mind..Sr Adv Khurshid: There are two verses of the Quran before you. Justice Gupta: You want us to interpret the verses after Mr Muchhala told us that we cannot do so.Justice Dhulia: What are you saying it is ERP? Sr Adv Khurshid: It is a matter of religion, culture, conscience, culture, dignity..Justice Gupta: Mr Khurshid, we don't want to keep the holy book with due respect. You can give us a print out. Sr Adv Khurshid: I thought this can go in judges library. Justice Gupta: We have one in the library..Senior Advocate Khurshid takes the court through pictures of Burqa, hijab and jilbab and the difference between them. Culture is important since culture leads to identity..Sr Adv Khurshid: The very elevated ideas given to the country by this very court cannot be taken away. If I am at the bar, I have to subscribe to the dress code. But does it mean I cannot wear anything other than this which is important for my culture or religion?.Sr Adv Khurshid: It is not uniform, of course, the uniform will be adhered to but there is something else which needs to be looked at. Hijab is a screen as per the Quran and it is religion or culture. Ghoonghat is considered very essential in UP or North India. It is considered essential..Sr Adv Khurshid: When you go to the Gurudwara people always cover their head. This is culture. In mosques, some countries people don't cover their head in mosques but in India everybody wears a head cover.. this is culture..Sr Adv Khurshid: Just because it is written that God is merciful and forgiving does that mean it need not be followed. But there are provisions also that good rewards in after life to those who obey and hellfire for those who don't. Though all of this is in afterlife..Sr Adv Khurshid: Often people think Qafir is some one who does not believe in Islam, but it means someone who does not believe in Allah. Deen means religion. For atheists who do not believe in God are not covered.. but here deen covers all and everyone..Sr Adv Khurshid: The Karnataka High Court judgment is correct in many areas but in application it has gone wrong..One Sikh lady seeks to intervene as well since she and other sikh women also wear turbans to institutional spaces.Justice Hemant Gupta: Okay. We will take this on Wednesday now. 11.30 am. By Thursday petitioners should complete.