Mumbai Students Approach High Court After College Bans Hijab, Burqa

Mumbai: A group of students has approached Bombay High Court against their college, seeking rejection of a notice banning use of burqa or naqab in classrooms.

Advocate Altaf Khan filed the petition on behalf of the students — aged between 19 and 21 — from Mumbai’s Govandi area.

The students have taken exception to a message circulated by Assistant Professor Pravin Bendle last month, mentioning a ‘dress code’.

According to the circular, girls are allowed to wear only Indian or Western dress, which are non-revealing and fully formal. Burka, nakab, hijab, badge, cap, stole were directed to be removed and restricted in college.

“Only after removing burqa, naqab and hijab on the ground floor, are students allowed to move around in college,” the message stated.

Advocate Khan said the petitioners live in slums and have been using burqa for the past 2 to 7 years.

In the initial years of petitioners’ study at the Chembur Trombay Education Society’s College of Architecture, there were no restrictions on wearing naqaband, hijab — either on the college campus or in the classroom.

The government-aided college, affiliated to Mumbai University, didn’t prescribe any uniform, and senior college students were allowed in naqab and hijab in the classroom earlier, the petition stated.

After the message on dress code, the students approached the college administration over the issue on May 13, but got no response.

The petitioners then approached Mumbai University and University Grants Commission, and yet no one paid heed.

As the new academic year commenced on Thursday, the students were again told that naqabs and burqas won’t be allowed.

The girls pointed out that the school’s message stated there would be a relaxation on the dress code on Thursday. The school management, however, told them the relaxation was for other kinds of dress, not for naqabs and burqas.

The plea will be heard on June 19 by the bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and RS Patil.

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