New Delhi: The Karnataka Government, while justifying its decision to prescribe a dress code in the educational institutes, apprised the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it had prescribed uniforms which were religion-neutral.
Representing Karnataka state, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj said on Wednesday that the state has not banned Hijab but has only prescribed a uniform which is religion-neutral. ASG Nataraj submitted that the state government had neither prohibited nor promoted any religious activity. He was arguing before a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
ASG KM Nataraj said all religious rights must be balanced and no one can say that they have an absolute right. Countering the submission of the petitioner, ASG Nataraj said that the matter did not require to be referred to a larger bench as it was a simple case connected with the issue of discipline in educational institutions.
He also said that no person has been discriminated against and all have been treated equally.
Defending the state government’s decision, Karnataka’s Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi submitted before SC the restrictions of Hijab are inside the classroom. Karnataka’s Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi emphasised that there is no restriction on wearing hijab in school transport or even in the school campus.
The Karnataka Advocate General said that ground reality was something which has never happened in Karnataka. He further apprised the court of a group of students who have come to education institute were demanding to wear Hijab, and banging the gates.
Karnataka Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi said that there were some groups which were actively associated with this and these facts are in the chargesheet. He also placed the chargesheet and translation of the government circular before the court.
Denying that state has acted against a particular religion, Karnataka Advocate General Navadgi said that Rule 11 of Karnataka Education Act is the statutory power for the school to prescribe the dress. He added there is no absolute freedom and every freedom can be restricted.
The court which was hearing various pleas against Karnataka HC’s judgment upholding the ban of Hijab in educational institutes, will continue to hear the matter tomorrow too.
During the day-long hearing, Justice Gupta put to the Karnataka government the petitioner’s argument that whatever is stated in the Quran is the word of God and sacrosanct.
Karnataka’s Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi replied that they are not experts in Quran, but Supreme Court has held every word in Quran may be religious but not essential.
Justice Hemant Gupta also shared that he knew someone in Pakistan, a judge of Lahore High Court, who used to visit India, and said that he had never seen his two daughters wearing hijab, at least in India. Karnataka’s AG Navadgi said to his knowledge, he has not seen a lot of women wearing Hijab.
Justice Gupta also shared facts that he has interacted with many Muslim families in UP and Bihar and have seen women not wearing hijab. Karntaka AG submitted that women are not wearing Hijab in several countries like France or Turkey.
Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, representing State of Karnataka, argued that today one person says it is my right to wear hijab, another person will say he wants to wear shawl, some other person will want something else. He further argued that how can you have religious symbols in a secular education institution? Secular education is not meant for that, he said.
Justice Dhulia asked will you allow someone who wants to enter school wearing a Hijab. ASG KM Nataraj said that school will decide and as a state we respect everything including Hijab and shawl.
ASG KM Nataraj said that all religious rights must be balanced and no one can say that they have an absolute right. All religious rights must be balanced, he said.