Karnataka Hijab Issue – UPSC GS2

What is the Issue?
  • Six students who attended classes wearing headscarves in violation of the stipulated dress code were sent out in Udupi.
  • Similar instances of students turning up at educational institutions with either hijab or saffron shawl.
Constitution On Freedom Of Religion
  • Article 25(1) of the Constitution guarantees the “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
  • It is a right that guarantees that the state shall ensure that there is no interference or obstacle to exercise this freedom.
  • The state can restrict the right on grounds of  public order, morality and health and to the other provisions as enshrined in this part of the constitution.
Judicial Observations on Religious Practices:
  • Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018):
    • A single bench of the Kerala HC held that the collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over the individual rights of the petitioner.
  • Shirur Mutt Case:
    • The Supreme Court held in 1954 Shirur Mutt case that the term “religion” will cover all practices “integral” to a religion, in what came to be known as “essential religious practices”.
What is the “Essential Religious Practices” Test?
  • The Supreme Court of India has tested the validity of religious practices on the basis of whether they are ‘essential to a religion’ or not.
  • This is known as the “Essential Religious Practices” Test.
Karnataka HC View:
  • The Karnataka High Court upheld the hijab ban and dismissed several petitions contesting the prohibition on wearing hijabs in educational institutions.
  • The Karnataka High Court observed that wearing the headscarf is not an obligatory religious practice in Islam. As a result, it is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution’s right to freedom of religion.
  • The Karnataka government’s order providing guidelines for uniforms in schools and pre-university colleges under the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 was also supported by the Bench.
  • The court ruled that it was a reasonable and legally valid restriction.
Scroll to Top