Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of Muslim girls challenging the Karnataka high court’s verdict on the ban on hijab (a headgear worn by some women from the faith), told the Supreme Court that the ruling resulted in thousands skipping the examinations.
Ahmad was responding to the Supreme Court’s inquiry on whether there is an accurate statistic of students dropping out of Karnataka educational institutions due to the Hijab ban.
“Do you have those authentic figures that because of this Hijab ban and the subsequent judgement of the high court, 20, 30, 40 or 50 students have dropped out?,” a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia asked.
“My friend (one of the lawyers) informed me that 17,000 students had really abstained from the exams after this particular judgement,” Ahmadi told the bench that is hearing arguments on a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka high court verdict that refused to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the southern state.
Questioning the credibility of the report, the bench said, “We don’t want to say anything about reports. We didn’t accept. The issue of the dropout rate was never raised before the HC. You are arguing for the first time here.”
According to Ahmadi, Muslim girls who had previously been confined to madrasas had broken stereotypes by enrolling in secular educational institutions while wearing the hijab, but the government order requiring students to not wear the hijab on school premises took that away from them.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for another petitioner, said the ruling is probably targeting Muslims and women from the faith particularly, thereby violating articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. Such indiscriminate targeting is against the law and the Constitution, he added.
He also said that across India and the entire world, whether it is an Islamic state or otherwise, Hijab is recognised as valid.
(With inputs from agencies)