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Hijab row: Confusion over HC order on religious attire in educational institutes

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Bengaluru: Despite the interim order of the Karnataka High Court on not wearing hijab is restricted only to pre-university colleges running class 11 and 12 courses, attempts were made to dissuade a postgraduate Muslim girl students wearing the headscarf to enter the college on Thursday from Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College in the coastal town of Udupi.

Also Read :- "Don't Sensationalise": SC refuses to hold early hearing on Hijab Ban

The postgraduate students said that they were not allowed to attend their classes or enter the college premises by the principal, which was in violation of the HC order.

This despite the fact that state Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan having clarified on multiple occasions that the HC order was not applicable to postgraduate students.

Notably, Karnataka Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi had informed Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi on February 22 that the state was not interfering with uniform norms in private-minority educational institutions. However, the state education department officials have reportedly been seen doing the opposite.

The students said they could not appear in their examination earlier due to the controversy over the hijab issue. The college had hit the headlines after Muslim girl students, who were earlier allowed inside with hijab, was stopped at the institution’s gates after a group of students wearing saffron scarves staged a protest.

Also Read :- Hijab row: Plea moved in SC after Karnataka HC upholds ban

A PG student said, “I did not come to the college for a few days as the situation was not good here. But it came as a rude shock to us when the postgraduate students were not allowed to enter. We do not know why the principal is doing it.”

On February 15, advocate Mohammed Tahir, who has been representing Muslim students on the hijab issue in the High Court, sought a clarification on the February 10 order from the court. “The order passed by the High Court has been grossly misused. They are using this order in every institution. Muslim girls are being forced to remove their hijab,” he told the court.

On February 23, in an oral clarification of its February 10 order, the High Court said that restrictions on wearing religious attire would apply only to state colleges where uniforms are prescribed. No written clarification was issued in this regard. The High Court also clarified, orally again, that its February 10 order would apply only to students and not teachers.

An official on condition of anonymity said the government’s February 5 order banning hijab and leaving it to the discretion of college development committees that prescribe dress code was the root cause behind the issue getting out of hand.

Also Read :- Karnataka HC upholds ban, Court says "Hijab not essential religious practice"
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