Why HL Dattu is wrong in both faith as well as law about hijab: BY Rajeev Dhawan

Why HL Dattu is wrong in both faith as well as law about hijab: BY Rajeev Dhawan

If Chief Justice Dattu is right, deeply religious devotees can suspend the faith they believe in for a few hours with impunity. This is actually more serious than the casualness with which these comments were made. The issue was whether a Muslim girl was entitled to wear a hijab for an entrance examination which laid down the condition that no scarves will be permitted to be worn. The chief justice felt that these were simply matters of belief and there could be no loss of faith if no scarf is worn for a few hours.

Essential

As it happens, the chief justice was wrong in law and his sentiments. He was wrong in law because it is now well established that Article 25 (on Freedom of Religion) protects both beliefs and practices.

Wearing the hijab is both belief and practice. The practice must be an essential practice as perceived by people of the faith. This has been the law since the Swamiar case of 1954. It was not for Chief Justice Dattu to make a seemingly flippant, “Oh come on, please… We will not interfere with this kind of small issue.” He went further and said it was “nothing but ego”, and added, “Your faith won’t disappear if you appear for the exam without a scarf”.

Before I go further, let us look at the case of turbans. In England, an angry Sikh was arrested 42 times because he would not wear a helmet while driving a scooter. The British changed the law. In our police and armed forces, Sikhs are allowed to wear turbans.

Would it be proper to tell all Sikhs that they cannot wear turbans for exams? Forget propriety. The Sikhs are very powerful, socially and politically. You don’t mess with them. You mess with the Muslim minorities because their resistance is easily silenced and there is a general bias that Islam needs reform

You won’t mess around with the Hindu caste system, but you use it to create Scheduled Caste and other Backward Classes (OBC). The interesting aspect of the Sikh religion is that Article 25 of the Constitution says: “The wearing and carrying of Kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.” This does not exclude turbans, but reinforces that “practices” are part of the faith.

Those who believe observe essential practices and are entitled to do so. Unfortunately, some Indian Hindus believe they can take Muslims lightly. The Babri Masjid being torn down by Hindu zealots is surely an example with no regrets. Muslims patriotic to India are identified with terrorism and Pakistan. This vulgarity now enters the justice system with scant respect for their sensitivities.

Professor Azra Razzak is surely right in saying

For More: http://www.dailyo.in/politics/chief-justice-supreme-court-hl-dattu-muslim-hijab-article-25-freedom-of-religion-radhe-maa-tolerance-diversity/story/1/5747.html

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