Comments by any “outsider” or another country on the hijab ban in Karnataka are not welcome, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. At a press briefing, the ministry’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said it was an “internal matter of India.”

Pointing out that the matter was sub-judice in the Karnataka High Court, Bagchi said that people from outside the country have no right to comment on internal matters pertaining to the Indian Constitution and its people.

“We have a constitutional mechanism, judicial system and democratic ethos,” Bagchi said. “This gives us a framework to find solutions to such things.”

The Karnataka High Court is hearing a batch of petitions on whether to allow students to wear hijabs in educational institutions. Among the petitioners are students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Kundapur town of Udupi district have been protesting since last month after they were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab.

Amid similar protests in other parts of the state, the Karnataka government, on February 5, passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. On February 10, a three-judge bench of the High Court barred the students in Karnataka from wearing “religious clothes” in schools and colleges until further orders.

Various foreign organisations and global personalities have criticised the ban on hijab.

On Monday, the General Secretariat of the Organisation of lslamic Cooperation had expressed concerns on the matter. Bagchi had then said that the OIC “continues to be hijacked by vested interests to further their nefarious propaganda against India”.

On February 11, Rashad Hussain, the ambassador at large for the United States International Religious Freedom, had said that the ban on hijabs in Karnataka stigmatises and marginalises women and girls. In response, India had said that “motivated comments” on the country’s internal matters were not welcome.

Nobel laureate and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, French footballer Paul Pogba and former tennis player Martina Navratilova have also criticised the hijab ban.