There is no restriction for wearing hijab on the campus but only in classrooms, Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi submitted in the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.
This is the eighth day of the hearing on Hijab row in the high court where a full bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice JM Khazi and Justice Krishna M Dixit is hearing a batch of petitions pertaining to the hijab debate.
Appearing on behalf of the state government, Navadagi also said that there was no ‘prohibition’ of hijab anywhere but added that it cannot be ‘compulsory’. He added that this had to be a woman’s choice. “Today by religious sanction a judicial declaration is sought. With this, the element of choice is taken away. A woman becomes obligated by religious sanction to wear that dress,” he said, implying that if the court held that wearing hijab was essential religious practice, the other woman would feel a lowered dignity.
Arguing that even in the armed forces, a beard cannot be sported, he said “A right cannot be exercised in isolation in public spaces. Institutional discipline is paramount,” he argued.
Navadgi said that the petitioners’ arguments were based on the premise of compulsion. “Dignity involves liberty and liberty involves choice. The entire submission of petitioners is based on compulsion. It goes against the fundamental ethos of the constitution,” he said.
He also said, “A large number of petitioners who represent women organizations, I want to tell them that the dignity of women must be kept in mind.”
Advocate Navadgi also said that as far as private unaided minority institutions were concerned, the state government was not interfering. This comes after some minority schools denied entry to students for wearing a hijab earlier last week.
The high court bench then disposed off a writ petition filed by Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Management Federation considering Navadgi’s statement that State is not interfering with minority institutions.