Sikh practices deeply rooted in Indian culture cannot be compared to hijab: Judge Hemant Gupta


During the hearing of the batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court judgment which upheld the ban on the wearing of hijab by Muslim female students in some schools and colleges in the state, Judge Hemant Gupta orally remarked that the hijab could not be compared to Sikhism because the practices of Sikhism were “firmly rooted in the culture of the country.”

In today’s hearings, Barrister Nizam Pasha had referred to parts of the Karnataka High Court judgment that said Hijab was at best a cultural practice. In this context, he argued that although it was a cultural practice, it was protected just as the wearing of the turban was protected for Sikhs. Adv. Pasha said that–

Judge Gupta mentioned in the morning that wearing the turban is cultural. He is protected. Wearing the hijab, although considered cultural, is protected. If a Sikh has to wear a turban and they tell him not to come to school if he wears a turban, that is a violation… I went to an all boys school and in my class there There were several Sikh boys wearing turbans of the same uniform color. It has been established that it will not result in a breach of discipline.

Judge Gupta was quick to dismiss this argument as irrelevant stating that the comparison with Sikhism was inappropriate. He said-

The comparison with the Sikhs may not be fair. Sikh’s 5Ks were held to be compulsory. There are judgments. The port of Kirpan is recognized by the Constitution. So don’t compare practices… There was a case in Punjab. A college managed by SGPC. The condition of admission was that anyone who did not follow the tenets of Sikhism could not enter. A girl was refused admission on the grounds that she cut her eyebrows and the case is pending here.”

He further stated that the practices of Sikhism were well established and rooted in Indian society. He said that-

Please don’t make any comparison with Sikhism. These are all well-established practices, well anchored in the culture of the country..”

“Islam has also been there for 1400 years and the Hijab is also present”, Pasha answered.

Judge Gupta had, in previous hearings on the case, pointed out that a “pagdi” was not equivalent to a “hijab” and that the two could not be compared as–

“Pagdi is different, it was worn in royal states. It’s not religious. My grandfather wore it when he practiced law. Don’t equate it with religion”

Earlier, Judge Gupta also said that a chunni is also not comparable to a hijab. This was underscored when senior counsel Sanjay Hegde said that a headscarf or hijab was already part of the uniform, as even a chunni was allowed as part of the uniform. To this, Judge Gupta had said–

Chunni is different. It cannot be compared to hijab. Chunni is used to be carried on the shoulders…People do not cover their heads in the presence of elders in Punjab. This is not the culture of Punjab.

High Court misquoted Quran to hold hijab not compulsory in Islam: Nizam Pasha tells Supreme Court [Day 3]

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