Lynching, claim on mosques… Hijab appellants claim a trend | India News


NEW DELHI: After arguing for lifting of the hijab ban in educational institutions citing its essentiality to Islam and women’s right to choice of dress as part of right to freedom of expression and privacy, the Muslim side on Wednesday told the SC that it has become a trend with the majority community to target Islamic religious practices, customs and places of worship.
Arguing on behalf of petitioner Aliya Assadi, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said, “There is a trend among the majority community to attempt to strike down anything which comes in the name of Islam’s mandate, be it lynching for beef or religious places.”
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia told Dhavan to limit his arguments only to the hijab issue, which was under scrutiny.
Dhavan said it was not a case of enforcement of uniform prescribed by educational institutions as the women were ready to conform to it by wearing a headscarf of matching the uniform’s colour, but not a saffron headscarf. Across the world hijab has been held a valid addition to the dress code provided by various institutions, he said.
Like his colleagues who argued prior to him for the Muslim side, Dhavan warned the court against venturing into adjudicating whether hijab was an essential religious practice or not.
“The SC judges are not moulvis or pandits to decide what are essential religious practices. If the religious leaders say a practice is essential to their faith, the SC cannot say it is not,” he said. The bench said, “You say the courts are not equipped to test the essentiality of a religious practice. So, if a dispute arises about a particular religious practice, who should decide it if not the courts?”
Changing track, Dhavan indulged in some additional majority community bashing. “It has become a trend to poke at the religious practices of Muslims to test whether these practices can be stopped. Practices and performances are as important as religion. Here, we are not talking about the practices directed by Manu (Samhita or Manusmriti) or Vedas.”
“If it is the belief of a religious community that hijab is an established practice in Karnataka, no authority can stop it. If it is the belief of a community, a secular judge has no right to sit on judgment over it,” he argued, quoting a judgment on a Parsi religious practice. Interestingly, this argument can be used by the majority community to lay claim over mosques on the basis of belief that it was built over a temple.
Dhavan, who had argued for the Muslim side in the Ayodhya land dispute case, said the authorities must be inclusive in their rule-making and the SC must apply the proportionality test to hijab ban.
“What is more important — strict enforcement of discipline through uniform dress code or upholding the right to education of women from a minority community? Should the educationally backward women be discriminated against because of their religion and gender, which is constitutionally prohibited,” he asked.
The SC asked other counsel for Muslim side, which has already argued for five days, to conclude their submissions on Thursday.





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