The full bench of the Karnataka High Court, which concluded its hearing in the hijab case, is likely to pronounce its verdict today.
The demand by a section of girls in an Udupi pre-university college to wear hijab inside their classrooms erupted into a major row after some Hindu students turned up in saffron shawls, with the issue spreading to other parts of the state, even as the government insisted on a uniform norm.
According to the lawyers appearing for the petitioner girls from Udupi district, the matter pertaining to the hijab case has been listed for Tuesday as serial No. 1 and the court may spell out the operative part of the verdict from 10.30 am onwards.
The full bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice J M Khazi was constituted on February 9 on a petition filed by girls from Udupi, who prayed that they should be allowed to wear the hijab even inside the classroom along with the school uniform, as it was part of their faith.
On January 1, six girl students of a college in Udupi attended a press conference held by the Campus Front of India (CFI) in the coastal town, protesting against the college authorities denying them entry into classrooms wearing headscarves.
This was four days after they asked the principal for permission to wear the hijab in classes, which was not allowed. Till then, students used to wear the headscarf to the campus, but entered the classroom after removing it, college principal Rudre Gowda had said.
“The institution did not have any rule on hijab-wearing since no one used to wear it to the classroom in the last 35 years. The students who came with the demand had the backing of outside forces,” Gowda had said.
As the issue of hijab versus saffron scarves spread to several educational institutions in many parts of Karnataka, the state government announced a holiday from February 9 to February 15 in all the pre-university colleges and from February 9 to February 16 in degree and diploma colleges.
The girls then approached the Karnataka High Court seeking relief and quashing the government order on February 5 restraining students from wearing any cloth that could disturb peace, harmony and public order.
The full bench of the High Court has been hearing the case on a day-to-day basis since February 10.
In its interim order, the bench asked the state government to reopen the educational institutions which were hit by the agitation and restrained students from wearing the hijab and saffron scarves in the classroom till the final order is delivered.
In a bid to maintain law and order and prevent any protests or gatherings ahead of the High Court verdict, prohibitory orders have been imposed across the state. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been imposed in Bengaluru for one week, starting from March 15.
Mangaluru Deputy Commissioner R Selvamani announced that all schools and colleges would remain shut on March 15 in Mangaluru and Shivamogga. He also added that the external examinations’ schedules would remain unchanged while the internal examinations conducted by the schools and colleges would be postponed.
“Except teachers and students, no one should go near the college campus. There are also restrictions on any celebration over the verdict,” said R Selvamani.
Apart from imposition of prohibitory orders, security arrangements have been beefed up in different parts of the district as a pre-emptive measure.
According to Shivamogga SP BM Laxmi Prasad, eight Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) battalions, 6 District Armed Reserve (DAR), 1 Rapid Action Force (RAF) troops have been deployed in the city.