Disagreeing with the Karnataka High Court’s order on Hijab row, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has said it is not the job of courts to decide about essential religious practices of any religion.

In a statement on March 16, JIH President Syed Sadatullah Husaini said that we disagreed with the judgment of the High Court. He 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 JIH President said, “We are highly concerned about the mischievous reporting in certain sections of the media giving a wrong impression that the court has put some kind of ban on Hijab. The court order has nothing to do with the issue of wearing or not wearing Hijab in social and private life. It is limited to the validity of Government Order giving power to the Management of public funded schools to prescribe dress code. Trying to create any rift or mistrust in the citizens by such misinterpretation of court judgements is not good.”

Mr. Husaini said that JIH is not against the practice of uniform in education institutions. However, he demanded that public funded schools, while deciding the dress code, should maintain the neutrality and respect for religious and cultural practices of the concerned students and dress code should accommodate their religious principles, cultural leaning and the voices of their conscience.

Mr. Husaini said, “We are highly concerned that this order may exclude Muslim women from education and it goes against the stated policy of the government of including all communities and social groups in the path of progress and development. Education is a crucial national priority and its cause demands a conducive atmosphere where everyone could pursue his or her education without being forced to make any compromise on his faith or conscience.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on March 16 said it will consider listing an appeal challenging the Karnataka High Court upholding the ban on wearing of hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka after the Holi recess. Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana told senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who sought urgent listing, “Others also mentioned. Let us see. We will list after vacation”. The apex court will be closed for Holi for three days starting on March 17 and will reopen on March 21.

Hours after the Karnataka High Court delivered its 129-page judgment on March 15, a Muslim student from the state approached the Supreme Court against the order, saying it had “failed to note that the right to wear a hijab comes under the ambit of ‘expression’ and is thus protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”. The student, Niba Naaz, said in her plea that the right to wear a hijab is also protected by right to conscience under Article 25 of the Constitution, which is an individual right, and that the ‘Essential Religious Practices Test’ ought not to have been applied by the High Court.

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