1. Court Ruling on Hijab
Recently, six students were banned from entering a college in Karnataka’s Udupi district for wearing a hijab. The issue throws up legal questions on reading the freedom of religion and whether the right to wear a hijab is constitutionally protected or not.
- In Fathima Tasneem v State of Kerala (2018)- A single Bench of the Kerala HC held that collective rights of an institution would be given primacy over individual rights of the petitioner on issue of wearing hijab as a part of uniform.
- Fathema Hussain v Bharat education society- Bombay HC ruled that hijab would not be a part of uniform in a girls school as wearing hijab in front of other women was not prescribed in the quran.
Grounds for challenging the government’s decision:
- Wearing a hijab is an expression protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression. Constitutionally, a right under Article 19(1)(a) can only be limited on the “reasonable restrictions” mentioned in Article 19(2).
- Student silently wearing a hijab/headscarf and attending class cannot in any manner be said to be a practice that disturbs “public order” and is only a profession of their faith.
- Ban on headscarves violates the fundamental right to equality since other religious markers, such as a turban worn by a Sikh, are not explicitly prohibited.
- The rules prescribed wearing of a dupatta for women and the state cannot dictate the manner of wearing that dupatta if a student wishes to cover her head with it.
- People have a right under the Constitution to profess, practise and propagate religion (Article 25). Every person is the final judge of his/her choice of religion.
- In Amna Bint Basheer v Central Board of Secondary Education (2016), the Kerala HC examined the issue more closely. The Court held that the practice of wearing a hijab constitutes an essential religious practice.
2. What RBI Status Quo Means?
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has kept key policy rates – Repo rate, Reverse repo rate and the Bank rate – unchanged for the 10th time in a row, and retained the accommodative policy stance.
- Status quo on interest rates – was warranted for a durable and broad-based recovery after taking into consideration the outlook for inflation and growth, the uncertainties related to Omicron and global spill-overs.
- The RBI has projected a 5.3 per cent consumer price (retail) inflation for the current financial year 2021-22 (FY22) despite rising crude oil prices. Retail inflation for the next fiscal (FY23) is projected at 4.5 per cent. Since the MPC noted that inflation is likely to moderate in the first half of 2022-23 and move closer to the target rate, thereafter providing room to remain accommodative.
- The large size of the FY23 market borrowings, and with no progress on the inclusion of Indian debt market in the global bond indices, might have prompted the RBI to delay the liquidity normalisation in an effort to keep the cost of large borrowings programme under control.
- The policy is in line with the government’s push for capital investments as cost of borrowing for government will be lower too.
- It can also support borrowings by corporates as low interest rates works well for consumption demand and investment.
- Borrowers will benefit as lending rates are unlikely to grow in the near future. Eg: benefit through low-cost home loans.
- Savers and depositors will find their interest income unchanged and will make a nominal loss on one-year term deposits.
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