‘We are not interpreters of the Quran’: Supreme Court over Karnataka’s hijab row


The Supreme Court on Thursday said it is not the “interpreter” of the Holy Quran and it has previously been argued in the Karnataka Hijab ban issue that courts are not equipped to interpret religious scriptures.

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Hearing arguments over a series of pleadings challenging the Karnataka Supreme Court ruling refusing to lift the ban on hijab in the state’s educational institutions, the Supreme Court made the comment after counsel for one of the petitioners said that the contested judgment touches on the Islamic and religious perspective.

“The only way is to interpret the Qur’an…. We are not interpreters of the Qur’an. We cannot do it and that is the argument put forward that the courts are not equipped to interpret religious scriptures, a bench of judges Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia said.

The highest court heard comments from several lawyers, who appeared before the petitioners and argued on various aspects, including wearing the hijab as a matter of privacy, dignity and also autonomy, and whether wearing it is essential or not.

One of the lawyers argued that the way the Supreme Court interpreted the case from an Islamic and religious perspective was a “misjudgment”.

“The Supreme Court may have said it all, but now we are taking an independent view in the appeals,” the bench insisted.

Attorney Shoeb Alam argued that wearing a hijab is a matter of one’s dignity, privacy and autonomy.

“On the one hand, I have my right to education, right to go to school, right to have inclusive education with others. On the other hand, there is my other right, which is right to privacy, dignity and autonomy,” he said. . .

Alam said the impact of the government order (GO) banning the hijab in educational institutions with prescribed uniforms is that “I will give you education, give me your right to privacy, give it up. Can the state do it? The answer is emphatic “no’.”

He said the state cannot come up with a GO asking a person to waive her right to privacy in front of the school.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal suggested that the case be referred to a Constitutional Court.

“Wearing a hijab is the expression of what you are, who you are, where are you from?” he said.

Sibal said whether the right to wear a hijab is available to a woman in a public place, her right is extinguished when she enters a school.

“You can’t destroy me,” he argued, adding that hijab is now part of the persona and also part of the cultural tradition.

Senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves said the main issue in this case is whether wearing hijab is essential to religion or not.

He claimed that once the practice is in place, it will be covered by Article 25 of the Constitution.

Article 25 of the Constitution deals with freedom of conscience and freedom of profession, practice and dissemination of religion.

Gonsalves argued that the Supreme Court verdict is a “majority community” perception, with the minority view seen as “very partial and very wrong”.

“It’s basically a majority verdict. The verdict read as a whole is in fact from a majority perspective. It’s not in line with the kind of constitutional independence a verdict should have,” he said, advocating the highest court. to quash the judgment on this ground alone.

Gonsalves wondered, “What’s the difference? If you can wear a turban, why can’t you wear a hijab?”.

“The ‘dress up’, ‘undress’ arguments are unfortunate because Muslim girls are basically stripped naked when told by the guard to take off the hijab?,” he said.

Hearing about the hijab controversy, the Supreme Court recently noted whether the right to dress would also mean a right to undress.

Judge Gupta’s comment was in response to an argument that the right to dress is part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression and expression.

Gonsalves argued that constitutional morality, in the context of minority rights, is the ability to see a problem through the eyes of the minority.

“It has to be cultivated. A majority person may not get the answer quickly, may not understand the intensity of feelings quickly,” he said.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, who appeared before one of the petitioners, said the second largest religion practiced around the world is Islam.

She said that across the country, people who practice Islam recognize wearing hijab as part of their religious and cultural practice.

At the outset, senior attorney Dushyant Dave, who appeared before one of the petitioners, told the court that he would take a little longer to plead the case.

“This is too serious a matter. I would like to help your Lordships as best I can,’ he said.

Dave said the court should have referred this case to a bigger bank.

“My attempt is to convince your nobles why this verdict must be quashed. This matter is far too serious than a uniform,” he said, adding, “this matter requires very serious attention from your nobles. the citizens.”

Discussions in the case continue on September 19.

The state government’s order of February 5, 2022, banning the wearing of clothing that disrupts equality, integrity and public order in schools and universities, was ordered by the highest court.

Several pleas have been filed with the Supreme Court against the March 15 Supreme Court ruling that ruled that wearing hijab is not part of the essential religious practice that can be protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.