The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Ritu Raj Awasthi, formed a three-judge bench, including himself, on Wednesday to hear a batch of petitions challenging a ban on the use of hijabs in a few pre-university colleges in the state, after a single-judge bench of the court decided to refer the petitions to a larger bench, citing larger constitutional issues. Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice Khazi Jaibunnisa Mohiuddin, a woman judge who took oath as an extra judge of the High Court in March last year, are the other two members.
On Wednesday, Justice Dixit, who was hearing the case, submitted it to Justice Awasthi for consideration, with the hope that the case would be heard by a larger bench. BC Nagesh, the Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister, expressed his happiness on Thursday at the creation of a full bench to hear the matter. On behalf of 18 females from colleges in the Udupi district, the special bench will hear five petitions on the hijab issue today.
Arguments for an interim ruling enabling the students to attend school for the last two months of the current academic year were first approved by the single-judge bench. However, because the state government and petitioners’ attorneys were unable to come to an agreement, the court decided to submit the issue of temporary relief to a bigger bench. The decision came after two days of rising tensions and protests across Karnataka over the issue, which resulted in at least 15 people being arrested for “breaching peace and harmony” across the state.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant has issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC prohibiting any gathering, agitation, or protests of any kind within a 200-meter radius of the gates of schools, pre-university colleges, degree colleges, or other similar educational institutions in Bengaluru City for a two-week period beginning Wednesday and ending February 22.