Hijab Case: LIVE UPDATES from Supreme Court [Day 4]

A Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia is hearing the appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment.
Hijab, Supreme Court, live updates
Hijab, Supreme Court, live updates

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 uniform

A 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.

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