Leaders of various Opposition parties on Tuesday expressed disappointment one the Karnataka High Court’s decision to uphold the state government’s ban on hijab in educational institutions. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader, on the other hand, praised the outcome.

“Karnataka HC’s decision to uphold the Hijab ban is deeply disappointing,” tweeted former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “On one hand we talk about empowering women yet we are denying them the right to a simple choice. Its isn’t just about religion but the freedom to choose.”

Another Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Very disappointed by the verdict of the Karnataka High Court. Regardless of what you may think about the hijab it’s not about an item of clothing, it’s about the right of a woman to choose how she wants to dress. That the court didn’t uphold this basic right is a travesty.”

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said he hoped that the petitioners move the Supreme Court.

“Preamble to the Constitution says that one has LIBERTY of thought, EXPRESSION, belief faith, and WORSHIP,” he said in a series of tweets. “If it is MY belief and faith that covering my head is essential then I have a right to EXPRESS it as I deem fit. For a devout Muslim, Hijab is also an act of worship.”

Owaisi said that neither the court nor the people of other faiths have the right to judge essential practices of a religion. In the order, the court has held that wearing hijab is not essential to Islam.

“It is between the individual and God,” Owaisi wrote on Twitter. “State should be allowed to interfere in religious rights only if such acts of worship harm others. Headscarf does not harm anyone.”

Lawyer Indira Jaising said the ruling creates more problems than it resolved.

Advocate AM Dhar, who appeared for one of the petitioners in the Karnataka High Court said he would challenge theverdict in the Supreme Court, ANI reported.

Karnataka BJP hails ruling

Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh said he was happy as the government’s stand had been upheld

“I request the girls who went to the court should follow the judgment, education is more important than any other things,” he said.

Nagesh said the girls who protested against the hijab ban had been misguided, reported PTI.

“We will try to win the hearts of those girls who were misguided,” he said. “We will try to bring them in the mainstream of education.”

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urged citizens to follow the court’s order. He said that it was a matter of fate and education of the children.

BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said the ruling was “an important step in the direction of mainstreaming and strengthening education opportunities of girl children”.

National Commission for Women chief Rekha Sharma also welcome the verdict.

“I’m an ardent supporter of women’s rights, I always say women can wear anything, anywhere, but if there’s a uniform code in an institute, it must be followed,” she said. “Students should not be divided into religion, caste, or creed. I hope they go back to classes.”

Also read:

  1. Explainer: Why is Karnataka HC deciding if the hijab is an ‘essential religious practice’ in Islam?
  2. Hijab ban: What courts around the world have ruled about religious symbols in school

Hijab ban case

In January, a group of Muslim girl students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College in Udupi city were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. The students staged a protest and similar demonstrations were held in other parts of the state too.

On February 5, the Karnataka government passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

In their petition, the girls had argued before the court that wearing hijab in educational institutions was their fundamental right to freedom of religion.

After hearing arguments on the petitions for 11 days, the High Court had reserved its verdict on February 25. In an interim order on February 10, the court had barred the students of the state from wearing “religious clothes” in schools and colleges until it decides on the petitions.

During the hearings that stretched nearly 23 hours, the Karnataka government, told the court that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice of Islam and imposing a ban on wearing it does not violate the freedom to practice and profess a religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.

The government had also said that religious aspects should not be part of uniform in educational institutions.

The court’s judgement is in line with the government’s stand on both these matters. As for the government order passed on February 5, the judges said that no case had been made during the arguments to invalidate the directive.