Students challenge Mumbai College ban on Hijab, Burka, Naqab in High Court

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In Mumbai, nine students from NG Acharya and DK Marathe College have approached the Bombay High Court to challenge a directive issued by their college banning hijab, burka, and naqab in classrooms.

According to a report by PTI, the students have condemned the ban as "arbitrary, unreasonable, bad-in-law, and perverse," arguing that it violates their religious beliefs and fundamental rights.

The petition, filed by third-year degree students, describes the directive from the Chembur Trombay Education Society as a "colourable exercise of power." Scheduled to be heard by a bench led by Justice AS Chandurkar next week, the case arose following a notice circulated via the college's WhatsApp group on May 1, which includes faculty members and students. The notice not only prohibited hijab, burka, and naqab but also imposed strict regulations on attire such as badges, caps, and stoles.

Central to the students' argument is their claim that wearing the naqab, burka, and hijab is crucial to their religious practices and identity. Initially, they sought redressal from the college management, principal, and higher authorities, including the chancellor, vice-chancellor of the university, and the University Grants Commission (UGC), to lift the restriction. Their appeals, asserting rights to choice, dignity, and privacy in educational settings, went unanswered, prompting them to seek judicial intervention.

The petition challenges the legality of the notice, alleging it was issued without proper authority, and seeks its annulment. The students emphasize the broader implications of the ban, advocating for inclusive educational environments free from discrimination.

The case has sparked a national debate on religious freedoms and institutional regulations, underscoring India's complex intersection of personal beliefs and educational policies.