Don’t Compare Sikh Turban, Kirpan With Hijab, Says Supreme Court: Report

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The Supreme Court on Thursday said that there is no comparison between Kirpan and the turban of Sikhs with the hijab as a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that wearing a turban and kirpan is allowed for Sikhs.
The remarks came when a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia heard various petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment upholding the ban on hijab in educational institutes, according to news agency ANI.

Advocate Nizamuddin Pasha, appearing for one of the petitioners, who is a student of Islam and Arabic, tried to draw similarities between the Kirpan and turban with the hijab.

Mr Pasha said that the hijab is a part of the religious practice of Muslim girls and also asked if girls can be stopped from coming to school wearing hijab. He further argued that even Sikh students wear turbans.

Mr Pasha stressed that cultural practices should be protected.

Justice Gupta said that comparison with Sikhs may not be proper as carrying of the kirpan is recognized by the Constitution. “So don’t compare practices,” the court remarked.

Justice Gupta said there are statutory requirements on turbans and these are all practices well established in the culture of the country.

Mr Pasha tries to cite examples of foreign countries like France.

Justice Gupta said that we do not want to be according to France or Austria. “We are Indians and want to be in India,” the court said.

Pasha while countering the Karnataka High Court judgement said that the hijab protects Muslim women.

Pasha said that the findings of the Karnataka High Court that the Hijab is a cultural practice are based on the assumption. He cited various religious books to support his arguments.

He also argued that it was a misreading of the footnote that the HC held that the Hijab is a “recommendation” and not “essential”.

Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat said that every religious practice is not essential but it is not that the state goes on restricting it.

During the hearing, Mr Kamat, appearing for another petitioner apprised the court that divergent views were taken by Karnataka, Kerala and Madras High Court judgments on whether the hijab is an essential religious practice. Madras and Kerala courts have held Hijab as an essential religious practice but Karnataka High Court differed, Mr Kamat said.

“Karnataka Government Order on the prescription of uniform in educational institutes suffers from non-application of mind,” he further added.

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