Karnataka hijab case: SC delivers split verdict Hijab verdict: SC delivers split verdict on karnataka hijab ban
The two judges on the Bench had divergent opinions on the ideas of secularity, freedom of expression and effect of the ban on education of girls; case will now be heard by a larger Bench
Supreme Court Verdict The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on whether Muslim students should shed their hijabs at their school gates. Justice Hemant Gupta upheld Karnataka’s prohibitive government order of February 5, saying “apparent symbols of religious belief cannot be worn to secular schools maintained from State funds”. Justice Gupta said ‘secularity’ meant uniformity, manifested by parity among students in terms of uniform. Justice Gupta held that adherence to uniform was a reasonable restriction to free expression. The discipline reinforced equality. The State had never forced students out of State schools by restricting hijab. The decision to stay out was a “voluntary act” of the student. In his divergent opinion, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said secularity meant tolerance to “diversity”. Wearing or not wearing a hijab to school was “ultimately a matter of choice”. For girls from conservative families, “her hijab is her ticket to education”. “Asking the girls to take off their hijab before they enter the school gates, is first, an invasion of their privacy, then it is an attack on their dignity, and then ultimately it is a denial to them of secular education… There shall be no restriction on the wearing of hijab anywhere in schools and colleges in Karnataka,” Justice Dhulia held. He further remarked that one of the best sights in India was a girl going to school like her brother. “Are we making the life of a girl child any better by denying her education, merely because she wears a hijab! All the petitioners (students) want is to wear a hijab! Is it too much to ask in a democracy? How is it against public order, morality or health or even decency?” Justice Dhulia asked.The case would now be reheard by a larger Bench.