A group of students approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking a directive for the government educational institutions in Karnataka to allow them to appear for examinations wearing the hijab.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud said he would “take a call” soon on setting up a three-judge bench to take up the matter in view of a split verdict of two judges in a related matter in October.
Another group of students made a similar plea on January 23.
On Wednesday, advocate Shadan Farasat told the CJI that the exams are commencing from March 9 and the students would not be allowed into examination centres due to the ban on the hijab in the state-run institutions.
“They have already moved to private institutions due to the ban but the exams are going to be held in government institutions. Some of them have already lost a year due to the ban. All that we are requesting at the moment is to allow them to take exams,” Farasat said.
The CJI said he will look into the matter and consider setting up an appropriate bench to take up the application.
In October, the court delivered a split verdict on the ban on the wearing of hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka.
Justice Hemant Gupta said that the state government is authorised to enforce a uniform in schools. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia called the hijab a matter of choice that the state cannot stifle.
Justice Gupta dismissed all appeals against the Karnataka high court judgment, which held that wearing the hijab by Muslim women is not mandatory in Islam.
Justice Dhulia, who differed and allowed all the appeals, said that wearing the hijab is a matter of choice for a Muslim woman and there cannot be any restriction against it. He quashed the state government’s prohibitory notification.
Justice Dhulia added that concerns regarding education weighed the most on his mind and the hijab ban would certainly come in the way of making lives better.
In view of the dissenting views, the matter was referred to the CJI for constituting another bench.