The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked whether there were any authentic figures regarding students dropping out of educational institutions in Karnataka because of the hijab ban and the subsequent judgment by the high court on the issue.“Do you have those authentic figures that because of this hijab ban and the subsequent judgment of the high court, 20, 30, 40 or 50 students have dropped out?” a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia asked after the counsel appearing for one of the petitioners raised the issue of students, especially girls.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing one of the petitioners, was quoted by PTI as saying to the bench that was hearing arguments on a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state, “My friend (one of the lawyers) informed me that 17,000 students had really abstained from the exams after this particular judgment.”
Ahmadi commented on the government’s recent decision, saying that it would force girls who were receiving a secular education in schools to go back to Madrasas. He went on to ask why someone’s religious observance should be seen as a hindrance to getting an education or being united with others. Finally, he questioned why other students would have a problem with someone wearing a hijab if they went to school.
“It is a balance that your lordships will have to strike as well as the state government,” he told the bench during the arguments. The state government’s order from February 5, 2022, which banned clothes that disturbed equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges, was referred to in the apex court.
Several pleas have been filed in the top court against the March 15 verdict of the high court, which held that wearing a hijab is not an essential religious practice and therefore cannot be protected under Article 25.