The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday clarified that its interim order to ban “religious clothes” in educational institutions of the state applies only to students, and not teachers, reported Live Law.

A bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishan S Dixit and Justice JM Khazi also said that the order applies only to students of degree colleges, pre-university colleges and government colleges, which have a prescribed uniform.

The High Court made the statement while hearing pleas filed by the students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College seeking permission to wear hijab to educational institutions. They have been protesting since last month after they were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. Similar protests have also taken place across the state.

On February 5, the Karnataka government had passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. The High Court had passed its interim order on “religious clothes” on February 10.

The High Court’s statement on Wednesday came on an application filed by students of Bhandarkar College of Arts and Science in Udupi district, seeking clarification on the ambit of the interim order.

On Wednesday, Advocate Mohammad Tahir, who mentioned the application, argued that since the order was passed, colleges that have no prescribed uniform and those which earlier allowed students to wear hijabs, have also been putting a restriction on the headscarf.

Awasthi then clarified the order and said that it has to be followed till the matter is pending before the court.

Several educational institutions in Karnataka, over the last couple of weeks, have made students take off their headscarves before entering the premises. Last week, an English lecturer at a private college in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district had resigned after she was allegedly asked to remove her hijab by the institute’s administration.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the Karnataka government had also told the court that there was no restriction on wearing hijab on campuses of educational institutes in the state. Navadgi had said that the ban on headscarves imposed by the state was applicable only inside classrooms and during class hours.

HC seeks details on Campus Front of India’s role

On Wednesday, the High Court also sought details from the Karnataka government on the role of the Campus Front of India in the hijab controversy, reported PTI. The Campus Front of India is the student wing of Popular Front of India, a Kerala-based Islamic group.

On January 1, six students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi had attended a press conference held by the Campus Front of India in protest against the authorities denying them entry into classrooms wearing hijab.

Rudre Gowda, the principal of the college, however, had claimed that the students had participated in the protest four days before they had asked for permission to wear hijab in classes.

“The institution did not have any rule on hijab-wearing since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years,” Gowda had claimed. “The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate SS Naganand, representing the college, claimed that the hijab controversy was started by students having links with the Campus Front of India.

Naganand claimed that the Campus Front of India had coordinated and organised the protests. Another lawyer said that the Campus Front of India is a “radical organisation” and is not recognised by colleges.

The chief justice asked if the state government knew about the allegations on Campus Front of India, to which, Naganand said that the state’s Intelligence Bureau was aware of it.