Udupi, Karnataka: A three-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and two other judges, began hearing petitions on the hijab issue Thursday afternoon.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court had declined a prayer by senior advocate Kapil Sibal to urgently transfer the cases from the high court to the apex court. The Court said it was “too early” for it to intervene when the State High Court was hearing it.
The state cabinet too Wednesday decided to await the court verdict before taking any decision on the issue.
According to the ANI, the bench is considering the issue whether wearing of the headscarf can come within the Fundamental Rights.
The court further directed the media not to report any oral observations but to wait for the final orders.
Further the Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra directed to ensure Law & Order and that students should not fall prey to communal elements.
Yesterday, Karnataka High Court’s single bench of Justice Krishna Dixit referred petitions challenging the ban on hijab in colleges to a larger bench. The matter then placed before the Chief Justice of Karnataka’s HC for whether or not the matter should be referred to a larger bench.
The matter has to be decided & disposed of as soon as possible as students are suffering from this issue, said Advocate Abhishek.
Earlier, the single bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit said that the matter requires consideration of a larger bench. “If you feel and all agree I can do this. I feel this matter requires consideration of larger bench,” he said.
The High Court had earlier requested students and public to maintain peace. The hearing will continue on Wednesday.
Karnataka CM Basavraj Bommai urged students, teachers and people to maintain peace and harmony. He also declared 3 days closure of schools and colleges.
Tensions have escalated in Karnataka’s Udup as a massive crowd of students mostly girls, one group wearing the hijab and another waving saffron scarves and headscarves, protested outside the MGM College on Tuesday. The protests started before a High Court hearing on a petition challenging hijab restrictions on campus.
A large number of girl students participated in an aggressive protest for their ‘right’ to wear hijab in schools, while hundreds of right-wing students wore saffron stoles-headgears and chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to counter the Hijab protests. Police was then called in to manage the situation.
The hijab versus saffron scarves has taken hold of many colleges in Karnataka. Some colleges declared a holiday on Monday to avoid communal trouble while another college allowed students wearing the hijab in separate classrooms.
The High Court is hearing petitions filed by five women from a government college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions.
The hijab protests began last month at the Government Girls PU college in Udupi when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf. Right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objected to Muslim girls wearing the hijab to class.