Press Trust of india

Hijab row: PIL in SC seeks implementation of common dress code for equality, national integration

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New Delhi:  A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday in the wake of the Karnataka ‘hijab’ row and it seeks a direction to the Centre, states and union territories to implement a common dress code for staffers and students in registered educational institutions for securing equality and promoting fraternity and national integration.

On Friday, other cases pertaining to the ‘hijab’ controversy were mentioned for urgent hearing before the top court, which took note of the pendency before the three-judge bench in the Karnataka High Court, and said it would protect the Constitutional rights of every citizen and take up cases at an “appropriate time”.

The high court, in an interim order, meanwhile, asked the state government to reopen educational institutions and restrained students from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab and any religious flag within the classroom in institutions which have prescribed a student dress code or uniform.

It is scheduled to resume hearing on February 14.

The fresh PIL , which has been filed by Nikhil Upadhyay through lawyers Ashwini Upadhyay and Ashwani Dubey in the apex court, also sought a direction to the Centre to set up a judicial commission or an expert panel to suggest steps for inculcating values of “social and economic justice, socialism secularism and democracy and to promote fraternity dignity unity and national integration among the students”.

“Alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights, direct the Law Commission of India to prepare a report suggesting steps to secure social equality and to promote fraternity dignity unity and national integration within three months,” it said.

Besides the Centre, states and the union territories, the PIL has made the Law Commission a party and sought a direction to respondent authorities “to strictly implement a Common Dress Code for staff and students in all the registered and recognized educational institutions in order to secure equality of status and social equality and to promote fraternity dignity unity national integration”.

It referred to certain protests held in the national capital on February 10 against the ‘hijab’ curbs in Karnataka.

“Educational institutions are secular public places and are meant to impart knowledge and wisdom employment, good health and contribute to nation building, not to follow essential and non-essential religious practices,” the PIL said.

“It is very essential to introduce a Common Dress Code in all schools-colleges to preserve the secular character of educational institutions, otherwise tomorrow Naga Sadhus may take admission in colleges and attend the class without clothes citing essential religious practice,” it said.

The common dress code is not only necessary to maintain uniformity but also to instil a sense of camaraderie among students from different caste, creed, faith, religion, culture and place, the plea said.

It referred to the dress code in countries like the US, the UK, France, Singapore and China and said, “according to a survey, around 2,50,000 guns were brought in schools and colleges in 2018. So, having a Common Dress Code that requires a student’s beltline exposed reduces the fear of a concealed weapon.”

The controversy started towards the end of December when a few women students in hijabs were denied entry into a government pre-university college in Udupi. As a counter, some Hindu students turned up wearing saffron scarves.

The row spread to other educational institutions in different parts of the state, and the protests took a violent turn at some places earlier this week, prompting the government on Tuesday to declare a three-day holiday for the institutions.

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