NEW DELHI : The right of a Muslim girl child to wear hijab does not stop at the school gate since she has a right to privacy and dignity inside the classroom as well, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia of the Supreme Court said in his judgment on Thursday in the Karnataka hijab row case title Aishat Shifa vs State of Karnataka.
“A girl child has the right to wear hijab in her house or outside her house, and that right does not stop at her school gate. The child carries her dignity and her privacy even when she is inside the school gates, in her classroom,” the judgment said.
The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict today in the challenge to the Karnataka government order effectively empowering government colleges in the State to ban wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students in educational institutions.
Justice Hemant Gupta who headed the bench upheld the government decision while Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia struck it down. Justice Dhulia in his judgment said that the Karnataka High Court verdict does not sufficiently answer why hijab should be banned in government educational institutions.
“All the petitioners want is to wear a hijab! Is it too much to ask in a democracy? How is it against public order, morality or health? or even decency or against any other provision of Part III of the Constitution. These questions have not been sufficiently answered in the Karnataka High Court judgement,” Justice Dhulia stated.
Further stating that there is no logic in the argument that wearing hijab in classroom will lead to law and order problem, the Judge called for inculcating values of tolerance and accommodation in schools and colleges in tune with the Constitutional philosophy.
“Our schools, in particular our Pre-University colleges are the perfect institutions where our children, who are now at an impressionable age, and are just waking up to the rich diversity of this nation, need to be counselled and guided, so that they imbibe our constitutional values of tolerance and accommodation, towards those who may speak a different language, eat different food, or even wear different clothes or apparels! This is the time to foster in them sensitivity, empathy and understanding towards different religions, languages and cultures,” the judgment said.