The Karnataka High Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of the state government’s ban on students wearing a hijab in educational institutions.
- The judges heard an argument on whether the state can justify the ban on the ground that it violates ‘public order’.
- Public order is one of the three grounds on which the state can restrict freedom of religion. Public order’ is also one of the grounds to restrict free speech and other fundamental rights.
- Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to all persons right to freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.
- Public order is normally equated with equated with public peace and safety. According to List 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the power to legislate on aspects of public order rests with the states.
- According to the government order issued on February 5 under the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, “public order” is one of the reasons for not allowing students to wear a headscarf in educational institutions along with “unity” and “integrity.”