Hijab Ban Appeal #1: Justice Gupta Warns Petitioners Against ‘Forum Shopping’Hijab Ban in Karnataka Educational Institutions
After a brief hearing on August 29th 2022, Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia adjourned hearings in the challenges to the Karnataka government’s ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions until September 5th, 2022.
The Karnataka government, on February 5th 2022, issued an Order barring students from wearing the hijab in State educational institutions that had a prescribed dress code. This Order was subsequently challenged at the Karnataka High Court. The Court issued an Interim Order on February 11th, barring all religious symbols, including hijabs and saffron shawls, from being worn in classrooms. On March 15th, the High Court delivered a Judgment upholding the ban.
A group of muslim women affected by the decision immediately appealed the High Court decision at the Supreme Court. With examinations scheduled in March, the petitioners requested urgent hearings at the Supreme Court multiple times. The first hearing in the case, however, was scheduled for today, Chief Justice U.U. Lalit’s first day in office.
Surprisingly, it was the petitioners who sought more time to prepare for the hearing today. Perturbed by the request, Justice Hemant Gupta cautioned the petitioners that ‘forum shopping’—delaying hearings in the hopes of a more favourable Bench on a later date—will not be tolerated.
The petitioners assured the Court that they needed more time to prepare for the case. Although they sought 2 weeks to prepare, the Bench granted one week, until September 5th, 2022.