Karnataka HC verdict on hijab oversteps its mandate, violates fundamental rights

Staff Correspondent

New Delhi: Legal experts and Muslims leaders reacted sharply on the Karnataka high court verdict on hijab with many arguing that the court’s overstepped its mandate to state what is ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’ for any religion in a landmark case that could have adversely impact the country’s polity. The court also upheld the Karnataka government order that had banned headscarves in classrooms.

Barrister and Hyderabad parliamentarian Assaduddin Owaisi called it “discriminatory” and infringes upon the personal liberty and interreference in religion. ”State should be allowed to interfere in religious rights only if such acts of worship harm others. Headscarf does not harm anyone.The ccourt verdicct suspended fundamental rights to freedom of religion, culture, freedom of speech and expression,” Owaisi said in a series of tweets. He said the High Court order has forced kids to choose between education and Allah’s commands. “Preamble to the Constitution says that one has LIBERTY of thought, EXPRESSION, belief faith, and WORSHIP.

If it is MY belief & faith that covering my head is essential then I have a right to EXPRESS it as I deem fit. For a devout Muslim, Hijab is also an act of worship,” he wrote. Other Muslim leaders also opposed the verdict, calling it discriminatory and against the spirit of the Indian Constitution.
Reacting on the issue, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president Syed Sadatullah Husaini said that it is not the job of the court to decide about essential practices of any religion and added it totally disagreed with the judgement of the high court. “We disagree with the judgment of the Karnataka High Court.

We believe it is not the job of courts to decide about essential religious practices of any religion,” said Hussaini and hoped that the Supreme Court will “bring the required essential correction into this ruling and will not allow a wrong precedence to be set.”
The Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind also concerns over the issue and vowed to fight it in court. The largest Muslim body added that the court order will only harm the cause of education to Muslim girls.

The three-judge bench held that allowing Muslim women to wear the hijab in classrooms would hinder their emancipation and go against the constitutional spirit of ‘positive secularism’, according to a report published in the leading news outlet BBC.
The 129-page order quotes passages from the Quran and books on Islam to argue that the hijab is not an obligatory religious practice.

“There is sufficient intrinsic material within the scripture itself to support the view that wearing hijab has been only recommendatory, if at all it is. What is not religiously made obligatory therefore cannot be made a quintessential aspect of the religion through public agitations or by the passionate arguments in court,” the order says.

Meanwhile, the six petitioner college girls, who started the protest, claimed on Tuesday that to them hijab is as important as education. On the other hand, the Campus Front of India (CFI) President Ataulla Punjalakatte termed Karnataka High Court’s dismissal of pro-hijab petitions as “against” the Constitution. Rejecting the court’s verdict, Punjalakatte said: “We will continue to support the six girl students who are fighting for the right of hijab.”

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