Expressing disappointment over the Supreme Court’s split verdict, Karnataka minister BC Nagesh, addressing the press on Thursday, said that he welcomed the order but expected a better judgment. “As a democratic government, we welcome whatever order we have received from the honorable Supreme Court. But we expected a better judgment because as you know – throughout the world – women are demanding not to wear hijab and burka,” Nagesh told the media, as reported by news agency ANI. He further added that Karnataka government’s ban on hijab in educational institutions will remain valid for an interim time.
Delivering a split judgement, the two-judge SC bench ruled that the matter will now be placed before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in view of “divergence of opinion.” The ban will remain in place till the time the CJI forms a new bench of three judges or more.
Talking to the media, the counsel for the Hindu side Advocate Barun Sinha said that the Karnataka High Court ruling on the hijab ban will be applicable for an interim time following the verdict delivered by the top court.
Justice Hemant Gupta ruled that the Karnataka government order was not impeding the petitioners’ access to education and that the ‘Freedom of Expression’ under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution was not absolute in nature, according to Live Law. Maintaining that the practice of hijab was not an essential religious practice in Islam, Justice Gupta stated that the government was well within its rights to enforce uniform in educational institutions and banning any religious attires, as reported by Live Law.
On the other hand, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia stated that the Karnataka High Court took the wrong course of action, and instead of basing their judgement on essential religious practices, the HC should have focused more on the fundamental rights, according to Live Law. Dhulia ruled that the ban on hijab inside college premises was violative of Article 14 and Article 19. In his ruling, Justice Dhulia observed that “it’s a matter of choice, nothing more, nothing less,” as reported by Live Law.