‘Wearing Hijab is a Personal Choice’: Supreme Court Issues Split Decision, Refers Case to CJI for Larger Bench

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on the ban on hijabs in Karnataka’s educational institutions on Thursday, with one judge upholding the March 15 high court order validating the ban and the other setting aside the HC ruling and calling wearing the apparel a “matter of…choice.” The court also referred the case to the Chief Justice of India for the formation of a larger bench.

While Justice Hemant Gupta dismissed the appeals against the Karnataka High Court’s March 15 verdict, which refused to lift the ban and held that hijab is not a “essential religious practise” in Islamic faith, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia allowed the pleas and stated that it is ultimately a “matter of choice.” “There is divergence of opinion,” Justice Gupta, who presided over the bench, said at the outset of the decision on a batch of 26 petitions. He stated that in his verdict, he posed 11 questions, the answers to which were negative for the appellants. The list includes questions about the scope and ambit of Article 25’s right to freedom of conscience and religion, as well as the right to essential religious practises.


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