Karnataka Hijab Ban: SC

Hijab ban in Karnataka: The Supreme Court’s split verdict on the petitions filed against the hijab ban in Karnataka also reflects the realities of our society. There has been an ongoing debate over whether or not faith should be practiced in public. Many believe that religion and religious practices should not be broadcast in public places like schools, colleges, offices, etc. But there’s also an argument that it’s a matter of choice.Also Read – ‘Wearing the hijab is a matter of choice’: Supreme Court issues split verdict, returns case to CJI to build wider bench

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on the issue challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment upholding the ban on hijab in public educational institutions in the state. Two SC judges, Judge Hemanta Gupta and Judge Sudhanshu Dhulia delivered a split verdict on the matter. Justice Gupta came out in favor of banning the hijab, saying religious belief cannot be passed on to a state-funded secular school. On the other hand, Judge Dhulia had a different view. He overruled the HC order saying, “It’s ultimately a matter of choice, nothing more nothing less.” Also Read – News Highlights: Uzbekistan relocates 2,000 Indian medical students from Ukraine

Echoing the concerns of the petitioner, Judge Dhulia said, “All the petitioner wants is to wear a hijab! Is it too much to ask in a democracy? Read also – Karnataka hijab ban: Supreme Court concludes hearing and reserves judgment

How the two SC judges diverged on the issue

  1. Judge Gupta argues that religious belief cannot be passed on to a secular school, while Judge Dhulia gives a “choice” argument.
  2. Justice Dhulia suggests that the court should not be rushed to decide on matters relating to faith, Justice Gupta believes that faith is not conducive to the pious atmosphere of the school.
  3. Judge Dhulia believes that the state order in the matter may prevent the girl from receiving an education, but Judge Gupta argues that the government order only ensures that the prescribed uniform is adhered to by the students.
  4. Justice Gupta argues that the government order banning the hijab is in the wider interest of treating all students equally, while Justice Dhulia believes that wanting to wear a hijab in schools is not too much to ask in a democracy.

Question of choice vs equality debate

This question now basically boils down to two arguments: is it a matter of individual choice or should there be a sense of equality in public places? Proponents of the “choice” argument, such as Justice Dhulia, believe that it is an individual’s fundamental right to carry out their religious practices without discrimination. According to Judge Dhulia, the courts should be slow to determine what constitutes an essential religious practice, because the courts are not the forums for resolving theological questions and are not well equipped to do so. In contrast, Judge Gupta believes that religious belief cannot be passed on to a secular school maintained by public funds. Many echo his sentiments regarding religion and its practice in public.

The road to follow

For now, the hijab ban in Karnataka will continue. In view of the dissenting opinion, the matters should be referred to the Chief Justice of India for proper instruction. The case has now been referred to Chief Justice of India (CJI) UU Lalit to constitute a new bench. The new bench will have three or more judges at the discretion of the CJI.

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