Based on a declaration by the Karnataka government that it is not interfering with uniform norms in private minority educational institutions, the Karnataka High Court Tuesday “disposed of” a petition filed by the Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation.
The federation had approached the High Court seeking directions for non-interference of the state government with the rights of minority educational institutions on running educational institutions. It argued that a government order of February 5 prescribing restrictions on uniforms cannot be enforced on private minority institutions.
The February 5 order of the Karnataka government, saying students must abide by the uniform norms prescribed by the colleges and a High Court order of February 10 saying all religious clothes are prohibited in schools and colleges where uniforms are prescribed, has created vast confusion among colleges in Karnataka over the last fortnight.
On February 16, when colleges re-opened, Muslim girls wearing headscarves and hijabs were prevented from entering many public and private colleges.
In Bengaluru, a Sikh girl studying in a private, minority institution for girls, was prevented from wearing a turban due to confusion over the norms on religious wear in these institutions.
The federation argued in the High Court this week that the “state government cannot interfere with the rights of minority educational institutions” and that the February 5 order of the state for students in colleges run by the state to adhere to uniform norms “cannot be enforced on minority educational institutions of unaided, including state board syllabus, ICSE, CBSE” schools.
On February 22, Karnataka advocate general Prabhuling Navadgi told the court, “The government is not interfering in any manner in the minority unaided institutions.”
Based on the submission, a full bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi stated, “We are of the considered view that nothing is required to be adjudicated in the matter. The writ petition is accordingly disposed of.”
Wednesday, the High Court said in an oral clarification of its February 10 order that restrictions on wearing religious symbols like the hijabs and saffron shawls would apply only to state colleges where uniforms have been prescribed by the colleges.
The clarification was given after advocate Mohammed Tahir told the court that all colleges — even those offering graduate courses where uniforms are not prescribed — were imposing restrictions on wearing hijabs by citing the February 10 order.
The advocate said that even teachers were being restricted from wearing hijabs. The High Court bench clarified orally that its order of February 10 restricting religious wear in schools and colleges would apply only to students and not teachers.
In its order, the High Court had said, “Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (bhagwa) scarfs, hijabs, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders.”
“We make it clear that this order is confined to such institutions wherein the College Development Committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform,” the High Court had stated.