Dismissing the writ petitions filed by various organizations against the Government of Karnataka to ban Hijab in schools, Karnataka High Court observed that Hijab is not an essential religious practice of Islam.
For those unaware, the Karnataka Government issued an order on 5th February 2022, directing all schools and colleges in the state to follow ‘Student Uniform’. This also included a ban on hijab, a headscarf which Muslim girls wear. This order was challenged in Karnataka High Court by many Islamic organizations. The court observed follow legal issues to decide the case :
- Whether Hijab is an Essential Religious Practice protected under Article 25 of the Constitution of India?
- Whether school uniform is not legally permissible?
- Whether the Government Order of 5th February was issued without application of mind and is arbitrary?
High Court observed that “The Holy Quran does not mandate wearing Hijab or headgear for Muslim women. Hijab at most means is a means to gains access to public places and not a religious end itself. At the most, the practice of wearing this apparel may have something to do with culture but certainly not with religion.”
Can’t imagine a school without uniform
Further explaining the importance of uniform in school, the court observed that “ No reasonable mind can imagine a school without a uniform. Uniform is not of a nascent origin. It is not that, Mughals or Britishers brought it here. It has been there since the ancient Gurukul days. School uniforms promote harmony & spirit of common brotherhood transcending religious or sectional diversities.”
The prescription of the Dress code in public places like schools, courts, war rooms, defence camps, etc., is consistent with their discipline, decorum, function & purpose. This brings a sense of uniformity and equality to the particular organization.
Politics behind the Hijab row
However, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of the radical Islamic Organization Popular Front of India (PFI), has been searching the ground for political gain and therefore they are raising such issues. There was a constant rise in the number of a student wearing Hijab in school and so to stop this Government issued order against it.
Moreover, there has been a constant effort by Radical Islamic Organizations to run through the Islamic propaganda to bring Shariat Law in India. The current row may be on the ground of Hijab but through various videos and pictures, it can be observed that students are even wearing Burqa in classes. This is been done through the coordinated effort of Radical Islamic Organizations to further their agenda of Sharia.
What the Constitution say about religious freedom
Fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution says that all person is equally entitled to profess, practise and propagate religion. The further proviso of the article state that subjects to public order, morality and health and the other provision of the fundamental rights.
Further explaining the provision of Article 25 of the Constitution, the court on various occasions has decided the case on Doctrine of Essential Religious Practices. In the Shah Bano case, the court observed that Triple Talaq is not an Essential Religious Practice. Further Explanation 1 of Article 25 states, carrying KIRPANS shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.
The judgement of the Karnataka High Court declaring Hijab, not an essential religious practice of Islam is way forward in the direction of the Uniform Civil Code as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It will further pave the way to bring reform in the primitive practice of Shariat law in the Muslim religion.