Muslim invigilator suspended for wearing hijab in Karnataka SSLC exams

An exam invigilator, Noor Fahima, has been suspended for wearing hijab to the Karnataka SSLC exams. Noor Fahima was the invigilator at the KTSV School in Bengaluru.

An exam invigilator, Noor Fahima, has been suspended for wearing hijab to the Karnataka SSLC exams. Noor Fahima was the invigilator at the KTSV School in Bengaluru.

Students have been banned from wearing hijab in schools after a verdict of the Karnataka High Court, however, till now there were no clear instructions for teachers.

This happened on a day when Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said the wearing of the hijab would not be allowed during the Class 10 examination of the state board. 

“After the High Court order, we’ve not allowed that (hijab). We’ve given clarification that they (students with hijab) can come into the campus wearing the hijab but they cannot put it on in the classroom. The same condition will apply during the exams,” Nagesh told reporters.

Section 144 being imposed in front of schools where the exams are being held. More than 8.76 lakh students are appearing for the exam in over 40,000 halls in 3,440 centers across the state and thousands of Muslim students were denied their right to wear hijab.

The exams started on Monday and end on April 11.

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused an early hearing on pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict on the Karnataka government’s ban on hijabs inside educational institutions.

The Muslim girls had sought early listing of the issue citing upcoming school examinations.

The top court also declined to give any specific date to hear the petitions.

Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said: “This has nothing to do with the exams…don’t sensationalise” while responding to a request that the matter be heard next week as it would otherwise stop the girl students from appearing for their exams.

“One year will go. All these girls are being prevented from entering the school. Lordships may fix some date next week,” appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat said.

The Karnataka High Court three weeks before upheld the state government order effectively banning the wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students in educational institutions in Karnataka.

“Hijab is not a part of essential religious practices of Islam and thus, is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution,” said a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi.

Accordingly, the Court had dismissed the petitions filed by Muslim girl students, challenging the action of government PU colleges in denying their entry for wearing hijab.

Muslim students in Karnataka have been protesting the ban on hijab in educational institutions, saying the Islamophobic move of the Karnataka government violates their religious freedom guaranteed under India’s constitution.

Muslim students, activists, and Opposition leaders across the country alleged that these attacks on Muslim symbols and practices are part of the larger Hindutva agenda of imposing majoritarian values on the country’s 200 million Muslims.

Soon after the verdict, Muslim students in Karnataka who have been fighting against hijab ban, Muslim leaders, human rights defenders, Opposition parties said the verdict is enabling discrimination against Muslim students and it suspends the fundamental rights of hijab wearing students.