Karnataka Govt invokes state law: ‘Don’t wear clothes that disturb law & order’

The ban on wearing the hijab to classrooms, according to the state government, is not a violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

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In a directive validating decisions of state education institutions prohibiting Muslim girl students from wearing the hijab (headscarf), the Karnataka government said Saturday that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”.

The ban on wearing the hijab to classrooms, according to the state government, is not a violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

Invoking Section 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, the order by Padmini SN of the education department (pre-university) stated that students will have to wear the dress chosen by the college development committee or the appellate committee of the administrative board of pre-university colleges which come under the pre-university education department.

“Invoking 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act-1983 which says a uniform style of clothes has to be worn compulsorily. The private school administration can choose a uniform of their choice,” the order stated.

“In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn,” it stated.The purpose of the Act is “to provide for the planned development of educational institutions, inculcation of healthy educational practice, maintenance and improvement in the standards of education and better organisation discipline and control over educational institutions in the State with a view to fostering the harmonious development of the mental and physical faculties of students and cultivating a scientific and secular outlook through education”.

The order comes days before a scheduled hearing in the Karnataka High Court over the issue.

The directive cited an order of the Supreme Court in Asha Ranjan and Others vs State of Bihar and Others in 2017 which summarised that the larger public interest prevails upon individual interest not by negating the individual rights but by upholding larger interests and to ensure relationship between institutions and students.

The row over the ban on wearing hijab to the classroom was initially restricted to Udupi and Chikmagalur but has now spread to other parts of the state.

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