Karnataka: The Karnataka high court on Wednesday, February 16, deferred the hearing on Hijab petitions for Thursday. During the hearing advocate Ravivarma Kumar while appearing on the behalf of petititoners, said that the “government is picking on hijab alone,” news agency reported.
“Hindu girls wearing bangles and Christian girls wearing cross are not sent out,” he told the bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna Dixit and Justice JM Khazi.
Alleging discrimination against Muslim girls purely based on religion, Kumar also underlined that “no other religious symbol is considered in the government Order.”
“Why only hijab? Is it not because of their religion?” he asked.
Kumar further argued that the Karnataka government order does not have specific “provisions nor rules of the ban on wearing Hijab,” news agency reported.
He also criticised the constitution of the College Development Committee, an expert panel formed by the state government to resolve the controversy. Noting that the panel has an MLA as the head who will be representing a certain political party or an ideology, Kumar asked whether it can be entrusted with the welfare of the students. “The College Development Committee cannot have police power over students,” Kumar told the high court.
“Constitution of a committee of this nature gives a death blow to our democracy,” he also said.
Referring to the Karnataka Education Act, Kumar questioned the grounds on which the college administration has prohibited hijab-wearing students from entering classes.
“Rules say when an educational institution intends to change uniform, it has to issue notice one year in advance to parents,” the senior advocate noted. “If there was a ban on Hijab, it (the state government) should have informed one year in advance,” he underlined.
Tensions have been high in Karnataka state since the last week of December when some hijab-clad schoolgirls were prevented from entering classes. This led to massive protests in the state which gradually spread across the country.
In February, the state government invoked the Karnataka Education Act, which prohibits any piece of cloth that is not prescribed under the uniform norms and affects harmony, equality and public in educational institutions.
Meanwhile, Prohibitory orders under section 144 have been imposed in the vicinities of pre-university colleges and degree colleges in the Udupi district.