Educational Institutions No Place To Profess Religion: Karnataka Govt to HC
Karnataka state said that enforcement of a secular dress code was simply to maintain uniformity among the students.
Karnataka state told the high court that while it was not interfering with religious beliefs, educational institutions are not places where one can profess their religion. The state's affidavit was filed in response to a plea filed in the Karnataka High Court challenging the ban on hijab in government colleges.
The state's reply was filed hours after the high court's day-long hearing on the batch of petitions. The state will argue its matter later today in the afternoon.
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Also Read: "Seeing Students Protest, Not A Happy Scene": Karnataka HC On Hijab Row
Students gave a voluntary undertaking to follow dress code: State to HC
The students and their parents were aware of this uniform at the time of admission, the state said. "By taking admission, they have submitted themselves to the uniform and education imparted," it added. The state further added that the petitioner had voluntarily given an undertaking that they will abide by the dress code which should have been disclosed to this court.
The students can't claim any such exemption now, the reply said. It is pertinent to note that the students began wearing their hijab at the end of the academic year from December 2021 onward, the state added. The students made no claim seeking to wear a hijab before that and followed the rules therein. They can't claim such exemptions when 70-75% of their academic year is over, the state pointed out.
The Karnataka government said that after the hijab row, it has been receiving various requests and complaints regarding the uniforms where other students are now seeking their own dress code. The state said that since this is a sensitive issue, only an expert committee could decide such cases.
Educational institutions not a place to profess one's religion: State to HC
At the onset, the state asserted that it was not taking sides or interfering with religious beliefs and stressed the point that educational institutions are not places to preach and profess any religion.
"The government is not in favour of any particular student or group, nor are they interested in interfering with the religious beliefs. The only concern of the government is to maintain uniformity, cohesiveness, discipline, and public order which are indispensable to an educational system," the affidavit said.
"In educational institutions, students should not be allowed to wear identifiable religious symbols or dress code catering to their religious beliefs and faith. Allowing this practice would lead to a student acquiring a distinctive, identifiable feature which is not conducive to the development of the child and academic environment," it added.
"It is necessary that educational institutions must have a secular image which strengthens the continuation of national integration, the state said.
The BJP-led Karnataka government pointed out that "prescribing a dress code will not hurdle" or in any manner violate any rights. "On the other hand, they will be treated equally and there will not be any special identity being attributed to them or groupism they are subjected to by virtue of their appearance due to the dress code," it added.
The reply said that the Education Act and Rules give educational institutions discretionary powers to decide their own uniforms. The institutions have been following this dress code for several years, the state said.
"Prescribing a uniform also flows from the fundamental duty cast on the State under Article 14 and 46 of the Constitution," the affidavit read.
Also Read: No, Indian Flag Not 'Replaced' By Saffron Flag In Karnataka's Shivamogga
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