The Udupi Pre-University College told the Karnataka High Court accused the Campus Front of India for instigating and co-ordinating the Hijab row in the state. Calling the CFI a "rank radical organisation", the college said that while in general all the students were not protesting, the CFI is externally spearheading the campaign using a few students. The protests began after December 2021 when the principal refused requests made by parents of some students who were insisting that the girls be allowed to wear a hijab while attending class.
The submission was made on day 9 of the high court hearing on pleas that have challenged the constitutionality of the hijab ban in educational institutions.
The Udupi Government Women's Pre-University and the College Development Committee submitted that allowing religious symbols in educational institutions went against the secular nature of these institutions.
In a fresh development, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday clarified that its February 11 order banning the hijab or the saffron scarf applied to all those institutions where a uniform has been prescribed. This would also include Pre Government (PU) or degree colleges, the bench led by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi said.
The court's clarification followed a request made by advocate Mohammed Tahir who submitted that the February 11 order was being misinterpreted by educational institutions to impose their own dress code.
BOOM recaps the arguments made in court today.
Radical organisations have incited the Hijab row: College to HC
Senior advocate SS Naganand, representing the government PU College in Udupi, submitted that the Campus Front of India (CFI) "some rank radical organization" "is spearheading drum beating of hijab".
CFI members then came to college and started insisting that the girls wear the hijab, Naganand added. When the same was refused, the CFI started behaving rashly and started protesting, he added. "Then the girl students refused to attend classes without hijab," the senior advocate said.
Naganand told the bench led by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi that the college had issued the uniform mandate—which doesn't allow the hijab—continuously since 2004 and it was not a "stray resolution".
In 2018, the resolution for a uniform was reiterated. The hijab row began after December 2021 when the principal declined requests made by the parents of a few students who insisted that girls should be allowed to wear hijab, Naganad said recapping the sequence of events.
When the court asked what the CFI was, Naganand submitted that it was supposed to be a students' association, but it is not a recognised union. "It is an organisation which comes and creates commotion," he added.
Some teachers were also threatened by this organization, Naganand said adding that an FIR highlighting this issue has now been filed with the local police station.
Building an institution which is of a secular character: CDC to HC
Members of the College Development Committee and MLA MLA Rathupati Bhat submitted that they were building an institution in the state which is of a secular character. This goal stemmed from the preamble of the Karnataka State Education Act, 1983, said senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, who was representing the CDC and its members, said.
The world is moving towards a uniform that is not just uniform in colour but is also gender-neutral, Poovayya added. "We are reaching a stage where we say why should our girls wear skirts and the boys wear trousers. Why are we even making such a distinction between our sons and daughters," he added.
Poovayya said education imparted should empower the girls and make them believe that they are no less than boys to underscore the need for gender-neutral uniforms. Kerala has introduced gender-neutral uniforms where all wear trousers, he added.
The senior advocate submitted that there are around 950 students studying in the school—these include students studying in the high school and the pre-university college. Of these, around 100 are Muslims. Out of these 100 children, nobody ever insisted on wearing a hijab, Poovayya added. "Five children insisted in December (2021) and now you are seeing the sequence of events," Poovayya said reiterating contentions made by Naganand.
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