Hijab Ban in Karnataka Educational Institutions
Mohamed Arif Jameel v State of Karnataka
Muslim students challenged a Karnataka Government Order banning hijabs in educational institutions in the state. They claimed that the ban violated their Right to Religious Expression.
Petitioner : Mohamed Arif Jameel
Respondent: State of Karnataka
Does the Karnataka State Government Order banning hijabs at educational institutions violate Muslim students’ Fundamental Right to Freedom of Religion?
Is the wearing of the hijab an ‘essential religious practice’ for Muslims?
Does the ban on the hijab violate Muslim students’ Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression?
Does the hijab ban violate Muslim students’ Right to Privacy?
Muslim pre-university students challenged a Karnataka State Government Order directing College Development Committees across the state to prescribe a uniform for students. The Government Order (GO), issued on February 5th 2022, did not allow students to wear the hijab, or customary Islamic headscarf to educational institutions.
From September 2021 onwards, women students at a Government Pre-University College in Udupi, Karnataka, were instructed not to wear their hijabs to college. In December, students wearing the hijab were barred from entering college premises, and on January 1st 2022, the Chairman of the College Development Committee passed a Resolution stating that students would not be allowed to wear the hijab. Muslim students protested against the ban. In response to the protests of the Muslim students, other students demanded that they be allowed to wear saffron shawls and scarves to college.
The February 5th GO was issued under the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 and its 1995 Rules. Muslim students challenged this GO at the Karnataka High Court. As the Court heard the matter, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai ordered that all high schools and colleges in the state must be closed for three days. A Single Judge of the Karnataka High Court referred the case to the Chief Justice, requesting that the matter be heard by a larger Bench as the case raised questions of public importance.
A three-Judge Bench of the High Court heard the matter on February 10th and subsequently issued an Interim Order directing that educational institutions across the state be reopened and that no student must be permitted to wear any religious attire to the classroom until further Orders.
The Karnataka High Court shall continue hearing the matter.