New Delhi, February 11
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to intervene in the Karnataka hijab controversy even as it asserted that it will protect the constitutional rights of everyone and will take up the matter at the appropriate time.
Constitutional rights will be protected
We are watching... Constitutional rights are for everybody and this court will protect them. CJI-led Bench
“I do not want to express anything. Do not spread these things to a larger level. This is what we want to say… You also have to think whether it’s proper to bring those things to Delhi as a national-level issue,” a Bench led by CJI NV Ramana told senior advocate Devadatt Kamat.
Seeking to challenge the Karnataka High Court’s interim order restraining students from wearing religious dress till it decided the issues arising out of the hijab controversy, Kamat urged the top court to take up the matter on Monday. The high court order has led to the “suspension of fundamental right to practise religion under Article 25 of the Constitution,” he submitted. Maintaining that the interim order of the high court had far-reaching implications not only for Muslims but also for other faiths, Kamat pointed out that Sikhs too wore turbans. But the CJI refused to oblige him. “We are also watching what’s happening in the state.... Constitutional rights are for everybody and this court will protect them. We will list at the appropriate time,” the CJI said. This is the second time in as many days that the Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the Karnataka hijab controversy. On Thursday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had urged CJI Ramana to take up a petition filed by Fatima Bushra, a student of Government PU College, Udupi, in view of its pan-India ramifications. “Please wait...let the high court decide... They’re hearing it,” the CJI had told Sibal.
During Friday’s hearing Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed Kamat’s submission, saying the issue shouldn’t be politicised. The high court order was not available, he pointed out.
One of the advocates pointed out that examinations were scheduled to commence from February 15 and the petitioners had to choose between the examinations and their faith. But the Bench wasn’t impressed.
After hearing the matter on Thursday, a three-judge Bench led by Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi had restrained students from going to educational institutions wearing religious dress.
“We request the state government and all other stakeholders to reopen the educational institutions and allow the students to return to the classes at the earliest. Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls, scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within the classroom, until further orders,” read the HC interim order made public on Friday. The HC, however, made “it clear that this order is confined to the institutions wherein the college development committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform.”
There are three petitions filed in the top court. The petitioners have contended that despite the freedom of conscience and the right to religion guaranteed by Article 25(1) of the Constitution, girl students were not allowed to wear hijab.
HC’s interim order
An HC Bench had restrained students from wearing religious dress in educational institutions on Thursday.
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