Hijab Row in Udupi: NSUI plans to file Writ Petition in HC against Principal

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Hijab Row in Udupi: NSUI plans to file Writ Petition in HC against Principal

Udupi: The legal cell of the National Students Union of India on January 21, visited the Government Girls PU College, Udupi to collect information on the Hijab Row.

During the visit, the college was closed due to the rise in corona cases. The delegation condemned the attitude of the principal. The Delegation said that the NSUI state unit is taking the issue seriously and will soon file a writ petition against the principal in the High court.

Later the delegation met the deputy commissioner and submitted a memorandum to DC Kurma Rao M.

In the memorandum, it is stated, “It is unfortunate and disgraceful that for the past three weeks, six to ten Muslim students have been denied their right to education and have been prohibited from entering classrooms only because they chose to wear the Hijab as mandated by their religion. The administration of the PUC College has denied entry to these students into the classrooms. These students are sitting within the campus losing out on attendance and classes. The actions of the college administration are unsanctioned, unlawful and totally against the provisions of the Constitution.

Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India, guarantees the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate any religion, subject to public order, morality and health. India’s Constitution guarantees a person the freedom to practice their religion as a fundamental right. It is a settled position of law, enshrined in numerous cases, that wearing a hijab by Muslim women or carrying a ‘Kirpan’ by the Sikhs falls under the protections guaranteed by the Constitution.

The right of a woman to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under Article 25(1) when such prescription of dress is an essential part of the religion. The fundamental right of freedom of religion is protected to the extent to practice an essential part of the religion. Now, wearing a hijab thereby covering the head and wearing a long sleeve dress by women have been treated as an essential part of the Islamic religion.

It is also submitted that wearing the hijab is not invoking an interest in the public order or morals of society. In absence of any conditions referable under Article 25(1), the essential practice cannot be regulated or restrained. This position of law has been enumerated in a myriad of cases before the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts. Therefore, it can be asserted that there can be no interference by any authority or body when it comes to the choice of Muslim students to wear the hijab and attend college or class. In the instant matter, the PUC College has no power vested in them to prohibit the said students from attending classes on the sole ground of wearing hijab. The actions of the College are a manifestly arbitrary and glaring violation of provisions enshrined under the constitution of India.

The college claims to have prescribed a dress code to enforce an egalitarian system of education. It is submitted that there does not exist any such ‘Uniform Dress Code’, however even if it did, the provisions of the Constitution will supersede the same. Any student who wishes to adhere to a dress code mandated by their religion ought to be allowed to do so without any hindrance whatsoever. It is submitted that keeping the students outside classes and denying them entry is discriminatory, manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable and in gross violation of the provisions of the constitution. The College administration is not only violating the right to freedom of religion of the students but is also violating their right to education as enshrined in Article 21A. It must be kept in mind that the children today are the future of this country and hence the school administration is duty-bound to protect their rights and interests.

The students are put under severe trauma and mental pressure by the actions of the college administration. The actions of the college administration have already created a stigma in the eyes of the professors and peers owing to the brave voice of the students who stood for their rights by singling out the students who wore the hijab and denying them their right to attend classes. It is needful to state that the students have already missed out on 3 weeks of tuition which will adversely affect them in their upcoming exams. It is requested by your esteemed authority to uphold the rights of the children, minorities, the underprivileged and the students’ community.

It is requested that the law enshrined in the Constitution of India be enforced in both letter and spirit and to eradicate any form of differential treatment. We hereby demand that immediate and necessary action be taken to ensure that the PUC College rescinds all its orders, prohibiting the students from wearing Hijab and allowing them immediate access into classes. It is also pleaded that the Students be compensated for missed classes in order to complete portions that they have missed out on due to their denial of entry into the college.

NSUI state leaders advocate Shath B Shivanna, Suhan Alva, Saurabh Ballal, Zameer and others were present during the visit.

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