India court upholds Karnataka state’s ban on hijab in class

An Indian court has upheld a ban on the hijab in class in the southern state of Karnataka, governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We are of the considered opinion that wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice,” Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi of the Karnataka High Court said in a judgement on Tuesday.

He said the government had the power to prescribe uniform guidelines, dismissing various petitions challenging the order.

Students who had challenged the ban in court had said wearing the hijab was a fundamental right guaranteed under India’s constitution and an essential practice of Islam.

Lawyer Anas Tanwir, who said he will represent the girls now planning to move the Supreme Court, called the Karnataka court’s ruling “disappointing” and “erroneous”.

“As far as essential religious practice is concerned, [that] should not have been the question. The question should have been whether the [authorities] had the power to pass such orders.”

 

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