'Definition of dignity has changed with time', SC observes during hearing on Karnataka hijab row

Senior advocate Dave representing some of the petitioners challenging the Karnataka HC judgement on hijab argued that girls wearing hijab to the school do not violate anybody's peace and safety

Representative Photo
Representative Photo
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IANS

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing some of the petitioners challenging the Karnataka High Court judgement on hijab, on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that hijab adds to dignity and makes a woman very dignified when she wears it, like a Hindu woman who covers her head - it is very dignified.

A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia told Dave that the definition of dignity has changed with time, and it keeps changing.

Dave argued that girls wearing hijab to the school do not violate anybody's peace and safety and there is certainly no danger to tranquillity. And, there is only one aspect of public order, which could be argued, he added.

Dave submitted that the girls want to wear the hijab, so whose constitutional right is violated? The other students'? The school? He differentiated between Sabarimala judgment and the hijab case. The bench replied that in that case petitioners did not have a fundamental right to enter the temple. Dave said now it has been established that everyone can enter the temple.

The bench queried Dave, in many schools, there can be disparity, therefore, uniform is there and one cannot see richness or poverty. Dave said I am for uniform and every institution likes identity.

The bench added that it has a very limited question - whether headgear can be allowed. Dave said uniform is an unnecessary burden in society and most can't afford it, and pointed out that he sees this with his caddies in the golf course.

Dave claimed that a series of acts in Karnataka targeted the minority community. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Karnataka government, interjected saying, "We are not in a public platform. Please stick to pleadings".

Dave submitted, why is it that suddenly after 75 years the state thought of bringing this type of prohibition? It came like a bolt from the blue. He added that Article 25 is crystal clear, and the constituent Assembly debates cement that. Dave emphasised that the test is not essential practice, but religious practice. He cited that in deciding the question, whether a given religious practice is an integral part of the religion or not, the test always would be whether it is regarded by the community following the religion or not.

Dave concluded his arguments for the day. The apex court has started hearing the Karnataka government counsel and the hearing will continue in the afternoon session.

The apex court is hearing petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court's judgement of March 15 upholding ban on Hijab in pre-university colleges.

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