Karnataka Allows Hijab for KEA Recruitment Exams

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The Karnataka government has decided to allow students to wear hijabs during state government recruitment exams, which are scheduled for October 28 and 29. This decision comes after a recent review meeting with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Education Minister MC Sudhakar.

Sudhakar said that the decision was made to uphold individual rights. Students wearing hijabs will be required to arrive at the exam center one hour before the test begins. This is similar to the procedure followed for NEET entrance exams.

The Karnataka government had previously banned clothing that could compromise equality, integrity, or the rule of law in educational institutions. This decision was made in response to an incident in December 2021, when six girls were denied entry to a college in Udupi because they were wearing hijabs. Protests erupted across the state in response to the incident.

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The previous government of Basavaraj Bommai had justified the ban on hijabs in educational institutions by citing the Karnataka Education Act of 1983. The government claimed that the Act gave it the power to direct schools and colleges on how to maintain public order.

However, many lawyers who represented the petitioners in the Supreme Court case argued that banning Muslim girls from wearing hijabs to school would jeopardize their education, as they would stop attending classes. Supreme Court Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia also observed that requiring a pre-university student to remove her hijab at the school gate would violate her privacy and dignity.

The Supreme Court delivered a split decision on the case in October 2022. A two-judge bench decided to refer the matter to the Chief Justice for further guidance. The Supreme Court has yet to set up a bench to hear the case.

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