Hijab Ban Judgment Pronouncement: Split Verdict from Justices Gupta and Dhulia

Hijab Ban in Karnataka Educational Institutions

Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka Hijab Ban case on October 13th, 2022. The Judgments, expected to become publicly available in the course of the day, will address questions on the essential religious practices test, right to equality, education, privacy, dignity and dress.

Justice Gupta, on his penultimate day at the Supreme Court before retirement, held that the Karnataka High Court decision upholding the ban was correct. He dismissed all appeals to the High Court decision.

Justice Dhulia, however, stated that the High Court decision must be reconsidered. He quashed the Government Order which led to the Hijab Ban. He stated that the cause of educating the girl child weighed heavily on his mind while writing his opinion. Notably, Justice Dhulia stated that the High Court ‘took the wrong path’ by basing its decision on the essentiality of the hijab to Islam. Instead, equality and free expression should have been the focus, he said. ‘It is a matter of choice, nothing more nothing less.’, he stated.

This two-Judge Bench spent 24 hours over nine days hearing arguments on the Hijab Ban. A split verdict means these hearings were inconclusive. What now? The case will go to the Chief Justice to decide next steps. He must list the case before a larger Bench.