Karnataka High Court hearing concludes for the day. The bench will resume hearing the petitions challenging the hijab ban in educational institutions tomorrow, February 17. Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchhala said that Muslim students, the petitioners in the case are being put to ‘Hobsons’ choice’. They are being asked to choose between faith and education. This violates fundamental rights, he said. He added, “The purpose of the Education Act is to promote harmony and not to create dissent among students.” Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchhala said that Muslim students, the petitioners in the case are being put to ‘Hobsons’ choice’. They are being asked to choose between faith and education. This violates fundamental rights, he said.
He added, “The purpose of the Education Act is to promote harmony and not to create dissent among students.” Senior Advocate Kumar says that judicial note has to be taken that Muslim girls are least represented in classrooms and government order on hijab is ‘draconian’. If they are shut out on the pretext of religion, it will be very draconian, said Kumar concluding his submissions. Senior Advocate Kumar: Here it is full of prejudice because of religion. No notice, straight away sent out of the classroom, by persons without authority under the Act or rules. The goal of education is to promote plurality, not to promote uniformity or homogeneity, but heterogeneity. A classroom should be a place for recognition and reflection of diversity. Senior Advocate Kumar: No other religious symbol is considered in the impugned Government Order (GO). Why only hijab? Is it not because of their religion? Discrimination against Muslim students is purely on the basis of religion and hence it is hostile discrimination. Senior Advocate Kumar refers to a research paper based on a survey done on religious clothes and symbols. He argued, “Many Indians display religion through attire. Half of Hindus and Muslims, a majority of Christians, say they generally wear a religious pendant. Most Sikh men keep long hair. I am only showing the vast diversity of religious symbols in all sections of society. Why is the government picking on hijab alone and making this hostile discrimination?” Senior Advocate Kumar mentions that College Development Committees (CDC) were constituted by a circular in 2014 and not by an order. The circular says CDC is to be constituted for the purpose to utilise the grants, as well as to maintain education standards. This CDC is not for students’ welfare. Under the CDC, MLAs take over the administration. It violates the separation of powers, argues Advocate Kumar.
Petitioner’s lawyer said, “I am not enforcing this document. I am only placing this document to show what the department itself has said – an emphatic statement that no uniform is prescribed, that principal shall not insist on uniform and principal will face disciplinary action if uniform insisted.”
The lawyer was referring to the guidelines issued by the government department, namely PU Education Dept, for the academic year 2021-22. When the court asked “Who has issued? Nothing is revealed,” Kuma said, “This is in the nature of a guideline issued by Dept for all PU Colleges under it.” Petitioner’s lawyer said, “By no stretch of imagination can a uniform impact academic standards.” Senior Advocate Ravi Varma Kumar refers to guidelines issued by a government department for the academic year 2021-22 for all pre-university colleges . “It’s not a rule but it’s a regulation in the form of guidelines. And it states that there is no uniform prescribed for [students of] pre-university colleges,” petitioner’s lawyer said.
“It is very important to take note of the fact that the College Development Council is not an authority which is established or recognized under the rules. The GO [Government Order] has declared that no uniform is prescribed for the PU colleges,” petitioner’s lawyer said.