The Kerala government said on Friday that students will not be allowed to wear hijab or full sleeve dresses as part of the uniform of Student Police Cadets, a voluntary force of school-going children operated by the state police, reported The Times of India.
“Combining religious matters with uniforms in the present situation would raise the same demands in other similarly functioning forces, which would question the discipline and secular survival of the forces,” an order issued by the joint secretary of the Home Department stated.
The government issued the order in response to a petition filed by a Class 8 girl in Kerala High Court. The girls had contended that it was her fundamental right to wear a hijab, reported NDTV. The court had asked the state Home Department to hear to take a decision on the matter.
The police argued that all their personnel wear the same uniform and no religious symbols were allowed. “The same system is being followed for SPC [Student Police Cadets] also,” they said.
The police also said that projects similar to the Student Police Cadets, such as the National Cadet Corps, also also do not have any religious dress code.
The state nodal officer of the Student Police Cadets was also not in favour of allowing religious symbols, reported India Today. The official pointed out that no one had raised such a demands in the 10 years since the programme was started.
“About 10% to 12% of children in the project belong to the Muslim community and no one has ever raised such a demand,” the Home Department’s order also noted.
Article 25 of the Constitution of India provides for free profession, practice and propagation of religion, but also gives states power to impose reasonable restrictions.