The Supreme Court Delivers Splits Verdicts On Hijab Ban

The Supreme Court Delivers Splits Verdicts On Hijab Ban

October 18, 2022 - 6:04 am

A Three-Judge High Court Bench Can Be The Larger Bench on Hijab Case

The Karnataka hijab prohibition case was decided by the Supreme Court on October 13 in a divided ruling, with one of the two judges sitting on the bench upholding the Karnataka High Court's March 15 order supporting the government's ban and the other overturning it. A three-judge High Court bench can be the larger Bench to which a split decision is sent, or an appeal can be filed with the Supreme Court. However, there is a twist in this instance; the CJI, who is the "master of the roster," will create a new, larger Bench for proper leadership and oversight.


Split Verdict on Hijab Case

One definition of a split verdict is one in which one side wins on some claims while the other party wins on others. In plainer terms, a split verdict is what is called when two judges who are referring to the same use have opposing perspectives and the ruling is not unanimous. This happens when the Bench consists of an even number of judges. The justification for judges' customary odd-numbered benches (three, five, seven, etc.) while hearing major cases.


Pro and Cons on Hijab Case

In the interests of unity, equity, and public order, Justice Gupta affirmed the Karnataka High Court's ruling from March 15, 2022, which mandated that the hijab prohibition in State-run pre-university schools be maintained. The main point of contention was a Karnataka GO that required uniform clothing in educational facilities. The High Court upheld this decision, finding that requiring a uniform and forbidding the hijab were both constitutionally legitimate restrictions. Justice Dhulia, disagreeing with his colleague, stated that although Justice Gupta's opinion was well-written, he was "unable to agree with the decision." In his ruling, he made note of his awareness that a constitutional court must speak with one voice and that divergent judgments and comments do not put an issue to rest.


What is Karnataka Hijab Ban?                                                    

The issue of school uniforms in the Indian state of Karnataka is known as the "Karnataka Hijab Ban." Muslim junior college students wearing the headscarf were refused admission due to a violation of the uniform code. Hindu students staged counter-protests by calling for the wearing of saffron scarves as the conflict expanded to other schools and universities across the state. The Karnataka government then issued an order declaring uniforms required with no exception for the hijab on February 5.           


The Way Forward on Hijab Case                              

The Supreme Court's two-judge bench has been unable to reconcile the tension between a girl student's right to wear a head scarf and the government's desire to maintain equality and secularism in schools. It is regrettable that the complex arguments made before the Court for and against the Karnataka government's ban on the wearing of the hijab did not result in a clear decision. The divided verdict may be a reflection of the disagreements in society at large on secularism and minorities. 

                                                       The politics surrounding the hijab, including the colleges' refusal to admit Muslim students who are wearing a headscarf, could stall the scholastic ascent of Karnataka's minority women. The youth now have the confidence that comes with knowledge to stand up for their rights and launch a fierce legal defence against a state administration that accuses them of aiding religious radicals. Protests that have taken place in Iran over the past few weeks appear to have strengthened this criticism. However, despite their numerous contrasts, the uprisings in Iran and Karnataka portray a similar foe: a government that limits their options. It would not be in the best interest of the nation for a ruling to validate this exclusive approach to education and a strategy that may deny Muslim women opportunities. As long as the hijab or any other clothing, whether religious or secular, does not detract from the uniform, reasonable accommodations should be made. When a new SC bench adjudicates on the matter, it should keep the question posed by Justice Dhulia: “Are we making her life any better?”