Appearing for a student of an Udupi college before a full bench of the Karnataka high court headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Kumar argued that when wearing of other religious symbols, like bangles, bindi and crucifix pendants, among others, is being allowed, why is only the hijab being disallowed. Article 15 of the Constitution forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
Kumar pointed out that in Indian society, many college-going girls wear a dupatta or something else to cover their heads, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or of any other religion.
Government forcing girls to choose between hijab and education, says lawyer
If people wearing a turban can be in the Army, then why can’t a girl sporting her hijab to practise her religion attend classes? It is a draconian decision,” a girl’s counsel Prof Ravivarma Kumar submitted.
He claimed Muslim girls are least educated and least represented in classrooms and if they are shut out in this fashion, it will spell doom for their education. As per him, the role of education is to promote plurality and heterogeneity, and not to have uniformity and homogeneity, and a classroom should be a reflection of diversity in society. Further arguing that college development committees headed by MLAs have no statutory source of power, he said they should not be allowed to exercise police powers vis-a-vis expulsion of students. “A judicial note of the fact may be taken that the MLA, whoever he may be, will be representing a party/ideology. Can we entrust students’ lives to a party or ideology,” he asked. According to him, an MLA will not be subordinate to the government and hence there will be no accountability.
Senior advocate Yousuf Mucchala said the February 5, 2022 circular contains manifest arbitrariness. He also cited SC’s decision in the Saira Bano case in support of the petitioners’ claim. He likened the government’s decision to leaving petitioners with “Hobson’s choice”, saying they were being asked to either choose education or religious conscience symbolised by wearing of the hijab.