No ban on religious wear in degree colleges as per HC order, says Karnataka CM Bommai

The high court order of February 10, which prohibits the use of hijabs, saffron shawls and other religious symbols, does not apply to degree colleges in Karnataka, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in the state assembly Wednesday.

“The high court order will not be followed in all colleges. HC has said only colleges where uniforms are prescribed, a ban will apply,” Bommai told the Assembly.

The chief minister’s comments came after the issue of Muslim students wearing hijab not being allowed to attend classes was raised by the leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah during Zero Hour.

The Congress leader sought a clarification from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government on a statement made by Higher Education Minister Dr C N Ashwathnarayan on Tuesday that the high court’s restriction on religious symbols would not apply to degree colleges.

Chief minister Bommai stated in his response that as per the February 10 high court order, restrictions on religious symbols are for pre-university colleges where uniforms without headscarves have been prescribed by the college.

The Karnataka HC in its order restrained “all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa) scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders.” It also added that the order “is confined to such institutions wherein the College Development Committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform.”

Despite the restriction on hijabs only in colleges where these headscarves are not allowed as part of their dress codes, it has been interpreted as a general ban in many districts in Karnataka.

On Wednesday, when colleges reopened after a break following the protests by Muslim girls in a few pre-university colleges in Udupi for their right to wear hijabs and counter-protests by Hindu youths to wear saffron shawls, many degree colleges did not allow students to attend classes with headscarves.

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