‘Religious dress in school can help understand diversity’, says highest court

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Having students wear their religious symbols at school gives them the opportunity to learn about the country’s diversity and to be “culturally sensitive,” the Indian Supreme Court noted.

A two-judge bench of the highest court, made up of judges Sudhanshu Dhulia and Hemant Gupta, heard a series of petitions challenging a previous court order in southwestern Karnataka state banning the state government from wearing hijabs, or Muslim headscarves. , was maintained in education. settings.

Judge Sudhanshu Dhulia made the remarks after senior lawyer R Venkataramani, who appeared before a teacher, said schools should be free from all religious elements to ensure the transfer of knowledge between teacher and students.

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“L [the teacher] work in an environment where individual claims of identity can be a barrier,” the senior attorney told legal portal Bar and Bench. “Only when they are absent can you begin to respect them… The hands of teachers will be tied.”

“Teacher can also say: this is an opportunity, look at diverse country, be culturally sensitive, that can also be an exercise,” the judge noted.

“How are you going to prepare the students, when they leave school, when they face the world, they will face the great diversity of the country, in culture, in clothing, cuisine, so that this can be an opportunity for them to prepare. That can also be a perspective.”

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The court, after hearing the submissions of 21 lawyers over a 10-day period, reserved its decision on Thursday.

The controversy started in December last year after a group of Indian schoolgirls claimed their right to wear the hijab in the classroom of the Pre-University College in the city of Udupi.

It soon escalated into a national feud that led to students launching protests and counter-protests as the college banned the girls from attending classes wearing traditional Muslim headscarves.

On March 15, Karnataka’s Supreme Court upheld the ban, saying that wearing the hijab in a classroom was not part of the essential religious practice, forcing girls to turn to the Supreme Court for relief.

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In the challenge, the appeal against the contested Supreme Court decision said it had “failed to organize its thoughts and was unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation, as well as the core aspect of the essential religious practices” in the Indian constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, who is in power in the state, justified the ban on the grounds that it prescribed religion-neutral uniforms in educational institutions.

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