The Karnataka High Court will on Tuesday deliver its verdict on petitions challenging the ban on the hijab in educational institutions in the state. Orders prohibiting large gatherings have been issued in Bengaluru and the districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

Muslim girl students, studying in government pre-university colleges in Udupi district, have challenged the denial of permission to wear hijab in classrooms.

In February, Hindu students and mobs of men protested against Muslim women wearing hijabs to educational institutes at several places in Karnataka. At some colleges, Muslim students were heckled, while in another case, some men climbed up a flagpole to plant a saffron flag and broke into classrooms.

The matter was first heard by a single judge, who transferred the case to a three-judge bench on February 9. After a marathon hearing spread over 11 days and nearly 23 hours, the three-judge bench of the High Court on February 25 reserved its verdict on the matter.

Ahead of the hearing on Tuesday, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant issued directions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Code Procedure that bans assembly of five or more members, reported The News Minute. The order prohibits protests or celebrations of any type in any public place in Bengaluru between March 15 and March 21.

The commissioner said that the order was being issued as protests had broken out at several places due to the the hijab ban and similar agitations can be cannot be ruled out after the Karnataka High Court delivers its verdict.

“If anyone considers to have been adversely affected by this order, he can file an appeal to modify or cancellation of this order,” the commissioner added.

Besides the ban on large gatherings, protests or victory marches in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, schools will also remain closed in the districts.

In a statement, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner KV Rajendra said internal tests in educational institutions will be postponed but external examination will be held in accordance to the schedule.

He added that the assistant professors recruitment examination conducted by Karnataka Examination Authority will also be held as per the schedule.

Hijab ban

Due to protests calling for the hijab ban, the Karnataka government had on February 5 passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

On February 10, the High Court barred the students in the state from wearing “religious clothes” in schools and colleges until further orders.

One of the questions the court is dealing with is whether wearing the hijab is an essential religious practice in Islam and whether the state can interfere with an individual’s decision to wrap the headscarf.

The court is also considering whether wearing of hijab is justified under the right to expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

During the hearings, the state government had argued that imposing dress code in educational institution comes under the power of authorities to put in place reasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(2) for institutional discipline.

The petitioners have also challenged the government’s order to give power to the College Development Committees to prescribe uniforms.

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