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Freedom of religion and attire- Hijab Controversy

  Apr 23, 2022

Freedom of religion and attire- Hijab Controversy

Q What is the context  ?

A Recently, six students were banned from entering a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district for wearing a hijab (a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women).

The issue throws up legal questions on reading the freedom of religion and whether the right to wear a hijab is constitutionally protected.

Q How is religious freedom protected under the Constitution?

Q What is Karnataka Education Act, 1983 ?

  1. Planned development of educational institutions
  2. Inculcation of healthy educational practice
  3. Maintenance and improvement in standards of education
  4. Better organisation discipline and
  5. Control over educational institutions in the State,
  6. With the objective of fostering harmonious development of mental and physical faculties of students.

Q What is section 133 (2)?

Q What is the Current status ?

Q Why do some Muslim women wear burkas?

Q What is the essential religious practices test?

Q What are several instances of a court applying the test ?

Q How have courts ruled so far on the issue of a hijab?

Q What are  questions pending before Supreme Court ?

A The row over wearing hijab has brought back into focus a case on the “scope and ambit” of religious freedom, which has been pending before a Constitution Bench of nine judges for two long years.

The seven questions pending an answer from the nine-judge Bench are:

  1. What is the scope and ambit of right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution;
  2. What is the inter-play between the rights of persons under Article 25 of the Constitution and rights of religious denomination under Article 26;
  3. Whether the rights of a religious denomination are subject to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution apart from public order, morality and health;
  4. What is the scope and extent of the word ‘morality’ under Articles 25 and 26 and whether it is meant to include constitutional morality;
  5. What is the scope and extent of judicial review with regard to a religious practice as referred to in Article 25;
  6. What is the meaning of expression “sections of Hindus” occurring in Article 25 (2) (b);
  7. Whether a person not belonging to a religious denomination or religious group can question a practice of that religious denomination or religious group by filing a PIL?”

Q What can be the Way Forward ?