'Only at appropriate time': India's SC refuses to hear hijab ban plea

Please do not spread it to larger levels… we know what is happening, says CJ Ramana


News Desk February 11, 2022
Muslim students display placards during a protest against the recent hijab ban in few colleges of Karnataka state, at Aliah University in Kolkata, India, February 9, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Amid the ongoing hijab row in India, the Supreme Court of the country on Friday said that "it will only interfere at an appropriate time", NDTV reported.

A girl in the Indian state of Karnataka had approached the apex court after the state's high court on Thursday advised students to avoid wearing "religious garments" until it decides on a case involving hijab restrictions in schools and colleges.

"Don't spread these things to a national level. We will interfere only at an appropriate time," Chief Justice NV Ramana, who declined an urgent hearing on the matter, was quoted as saying.

According to the report, when a lawyer pressed the court to take it up, arguing that the case had "far-reaching implications" and that students had been wearing the hijab or headscarf for 10 years, the Supreme Court remained firm.

"Please do not spread it to larger levels… we know what is happening. Think over, is it proper to bring these things to Delhi? The national level? If there is anything wrong, we will protect..." CJ Ramana said.

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday said that the matter would be heard again on Monday to decide if schools and colleges can order students not to wear the hijab in classrooms.

"These matters give rise to certain constitutional questions of seminal importance in view of certain aspects of personal law," the judge hearing the case was quoted as saying while referring it to a panel of judges to be led by the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court.

However, the counsel for the petitioners objected to the interim order, saying it amounts to “suspension of our rights”, reported The Wire.

A ban on Islamic headscarves or hijab at schools has prompted an outcry among Muslims in southern India, with large crowds taking to the streets to protest against the restrictions.

The stand-off in Karnataka state has galvanised fears among the minority community about what they say is increasing persecution under the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Also read: Hijab ban ‘reprehensible act’

The state machinery seems to be helpless before the saffron scarf group. Instead, some ruling party members are issuing statements to defend the ban on hijab which encouraged the RSS members to provoke the situation.

In one incident in a video widely shared online, a lone Muslim student wearing the hijab is surrounded by Hindu male youths shouting religious slogans while trying to enter her school in Karnataka.

The protesting students in Kolkata on Wednesday were predominantly women wearing hijabs, a Reuters eyewitness said, adding the demonstrations were without incident. The students told Reuters that they plan to reconvene on Thursday.

"We will keep protesting until the government stops insulting the students," said Tasmeen Sultana, one of the protestors. "We want our fundamental rights back…you cannot take away our rights."

The government of Karnataka, where 12% of the population is Muslim and which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has said in an order that students should follow dress codes set by schools.

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