A decision on whether schools and colleges can order Muslim girls to not wear hijabs in class was passed on to a larger bench by the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday, a day after a face-off over the right to wear the religious headscarves forced educational institutes to close down for three days.
"These matters give rise to certain constitutional questions of seminal importance in view of certain aspects of personal law," the judge hearing the case said, referring it to a panel of judges to be led by the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi.
"In view of the enormity of questions of importance which were debated, the court is of the considered opinion that the Chief Justice should decide if a larger bench can be constituted in the subject matter," Justice Krishna S Dixit said.
"The bench was also of the view that the interim prayers should also be placed before larger bench that may be constituted by Chief Justice Awasthi exercising his discretion," he added.
The case had been filed by a group of Muslim girls studying in government colleges in the Udupi district against a ban on wearing hijabs in classrooms.
The standoff in Karnataka over headscarves has been intensifying for days and took a violent turn on Tuesday, forcing policemen to fire tear gas to disperse a crowd at one government-run campus, while a heavy police presence was seen at schools in nearby towns.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai appealed for calm after announcing all high schools in the state would be closed for three days.
Students at a government-run high school were told not to wear hijabs last month, an edict that soon spread to other educational institutions in the state.
Campuses have seen escalating confrontations between Muslim students condemning the ban and Hindu pupils that say their classmates have disrupted their education.