The Karnataka High Court in India today ruled that wearing hijab is not an essential practice in Islam and upheld the state government's ban on hijab in classrooms.
"We are of the considered opinion that wearing of hijab by Muslim women does not form a part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith," a bench of the high court said in its verdict in Bengaluru, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The verdict dismisses petitions filed by Muslim girls seeking permission to wear hijab in classrooms.
Upholding the Karnataka government's ban on wearing hijab in classrooms, the high court said "the prescription of school uniforms is a reasonable restriction".
The state government "has the power to issue a government order and its order of February 5 this year is not unconstitutional," the court further said.
Meanwhile, People's Democratic Party chief and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called the Karnataka high court order "deeply disappointing".
"On one hand, we talk about empowering women yet we are denying them the right to a simple choice. It isn't just about religion but the freedom to choose," she said in a tweet.
India's federal minister and BJP leader Prahlad Joshi said "I appeal to everyone that the state & country has to go forward, everyone has to maintain peace by accepting the order of HC. The basic work of students is to study. So, leaving all this aside they should study and be united."
The hijab row had erupted in January after the management of a government pre-university college in Karnataka's coastal town of Udupi barred six Muslim girls from attending classes for wearing hijab as the dress was against prescribed norms of the college.
This was four days after they requested permission to wear hijab in classes, which was not allowed.