MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition by nine girl students challenging a city-based college‘s decision to impose a ban on hijab, burka, and naqab within its premises. The court upheld the college’s directive, stating it was not inclined to interfere in the matter, thus allowing the dress code policy to remain in place.
The case involved students from Chembur Trombay Education Society’s NG Acharya and DK Marathe College, who are in their second and third year of a science degree course.The directive in question prohibited students from wearing hijab, naqab, burka, stoles, caps, and badges on campus grounds. The petitioners argued that the dress code infringed upon their fundamental rights, specifically their rights to practice religion, privacy, and personal choice.
The petitioners’ advocate, Altaf Khan, presented verses from the Quran to support the claim that wearing the hijab is an essential practice of Islam. Additionally, the petition described the college’s action as “arbitrary, unreasonable, bad-in-law and perverse.”
“The directive is nothing but a colorable exercise of power,” the students argued in their plea.
The college, however, defended its decision by terming the dress code a mere disciplinary action aimed at maintaining uniformity and not a move against any specific community. Senior counsel Anil Anturkar, representing the college management, stated, “The dress code was for all students belonging to every religion and caste.”
Before approaching the High Court, the students attempted to resolve the matter by requesting the college management and principal to lift the restrictions, citing the “right of choice, dignity and privacy in the classroom.” They also sought the intervention of the chancellor and vice chancellor of Mumbai University, and the University Grants Commission, to ensure educational opportunities without discrimination.
Despite these efforts, the students received no response, prompting them to file a petition in the High Court. However, the division bench of Justices A S Chandurkar and Rajesh Patil dismissed the petition, allowing the college’s dress code to stand.