In a decision of state education institutions prohibiting Muslim girl students from wearing the hijab, the Karnataka government said Saturday that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”.
According to the state government, it is not a violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. Invoking Section 133 (2) of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, the order by Padmini SN of the education department stated that students will have to wear the dress chosen by the college committee.
The order stated, “Invoking 133(3) of the Karnataka Education Act-1983 which says a uniform style of clothes has to be worn compulsorily. The private school administration can choose a uniform of their choice, In the event of the administrative committee not selecting a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn.”
Section 133 (2) of the Act states the power to “give such directions to the officers or authorities under its control as in its opinion are necessary or expedient for carrying out the purposes of this Act, and it shall be the duty of such officer or authority to comply with such directions”.
The purpose of this act is to provide for the planned development of educational institutions, inculcate healthy educational practice, and improvement in the standards of education discipline and control over educational institutions in the State with a view to developing the mental and physical faculties of students and cultivating a scientific outlook through education.
The order comes days before a hearing in the Karnataka High Court over the issue. The row over the ban on wearing hijab in the classroom was initially restricted to Udupi and Chikmagalur but has now spread to other parts of the state.
Describing it as a “systematic conspiracy”, V Sunil Kumar, Minister for Kannada and culture, said, “A hijab or a burqa can be worn from home to college, but on entering the classroom, everyone should be in uniform.”
B C Nagesh, minister for school education, announced plans for a uniform policy, “What if tomorrow someone comes to the college in shorts saying it is hot? We cannot allow it. Colleges had set their own rules and it was being followed. There are Christian missionary-run colleges and a few of them do not allow Hindu students to wear bangles or bindis. Nobody has questioned it because it was the college’s decision.”
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