The Karnataka government has refused to budge on the hijab ban even for the sake of students due to take their board exams. Speaking exclusively to NDTV, BC Nagesh, the state's minister for primary and secondary education, said there won't be any provisions or exceptions made for those who want to wear hijab. Everyone must follow the High Court's order upholding the ban on hijab and take the exam.
"There won't be any concession. The students must follow the high court's judgment. No one will be allowed to take their exams with their hijabs. If the students realise their mistake, they will be allowed to take supplementary exams two months after the board exams, but again, without the hijab" the minister told NDTV.
The government's stance has placed many Muslim students in a quandary with the Supreme Court also rejecting an appeal for an early hearing on the hijab row earlier today.
Citing exams, the students had sought immediate intervention by the court. In their appeal, they said they were going to miss out on the board exams if the ban on headscarves is enforced. The top court, however, asked the students not to "sensationalise" the issue and refused to give them a date for hearing.
In its order last week, the Karnataka High Court had refused to lift the state government's ban on hijab. It dismissed the students' petition, saying hijab is "not an essential practice" in Islam.
The students had contended that hijab has protection under Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom.
The court also spoke in favour of the idea of homogeneity, which has been opposed by many in the Muslim community, who have questioned why any court should take up the role of the clergy.
Last week, the top court had agreed to hear the petitions challenging the High Court order after the Holi vacation.
When pressed to consider the approaching exams of some of the students, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said, "Others also mentioned, let us see...we will list after the vacations. Give us time".
Many students had dropped out of schools and colleges since the Karnataka High Court upheld the ban. The row had a ripple effect on Muslim traders too. After several Muslim organisations decided to back the students, posters have come up across the state declaring that Muslim traders will not be allowed in premises of Hindu temples and fair grounds. The state's opposition Congress has claimed that even Muslim vendors who put up stalls on the roadside are facing trouble.