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What Dr. Ambedkar said about purdah equally applies to wearing of hijab: HC

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Bengaluru, Mar 15: Rejecting the challenge to the rules made in some educational institutions with regard to wearing of hijab, the Karnataka High Court in a 129 page order quoted the Chief architect of the Constitution, Dr. B R Ambedkar.

What Dr. Ambedkar had observed over half a century back about the practice of purdah also equally applies to wearing of hijab.

What Dr. Ambedkar said about purdah equally applies to wearing of hijab: HC

What the Chief Architect of our Constitution observed more than half a century ago about the purdah practice equally applies to wearing of hijab there is a lot of scope for the argument that insistence on wearing of purdah, veil, or headgear in any community may hinder the process of emancipation of woman in general and Muslim woman in particular, the Bench observed.

That militates against our constitutional spirit of 'equal opportunity' of 'public participation' and 'positive secularism'. Prescription of school dress code to the exclusion of hijab, bhagwa, or any other apparel symbolic of religion can be a step forward in the direction of emancipation and more particularly, to the access to education. It hardly needs to be stated that this does not rob off the autonomy of women or their right to education inasmuch as they can wear any apparel of their choice outside the classroom.

That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women... Such seclusion cannot have its deteriorating effect upon the physical constitution of Muslim women... Being completely secluded from the outer world, they engage their minds in petty family quarrels with the result that they become narrow and restrictive in their outlook... They cannot take part in any outdoor activity and are weighed down by a slavish mentality and an inferiority complex, Dr. Ambedkar had said.

The Court said that Hijab is not an essential religious practise in Islam. The court also said that the prescription of school uniform is only a reasonable restriction and is constitutionally permissible.
The demand by a section of Muslim girls in an Udupi pre-university college to wear Hijab inside their classrooms erupted into a major row after some Hindu students turned up in saffron shawls with the issue spreading to other parts of the state, even as the government insisted on a uniform norm.

While rejecting a batch of petitions, the court said that the prescription of a school uniform is only a reasonable restriction. The prescription of a school uniform is also constitutionally permissible, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice J M Khazi said.

During the course of the argument, the petitioners argued that the government order in this regard is incompetent and was issued without application of mind. In the court the government argued that it was being unwontedly dragged into the matter.

The Advocate General during his submissions was referring to a Government Order of February 5, restricting students from wearing cloth which can disturb peace, harmony and law and order. The Court today however said that there was nothing wrong with the order of the government and hence it would not interfere.

Read the full High Court order here:

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