Burqa and the law: India

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Burqa on voter ID

No burqa on voter ID, says SC ‘If Sentiment Is So Strong, Then Don’t Go To Vote’

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

From the archives of The Times of India 2007, 2009

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that burqa-clad women cannot be issued voter identity cards, rejecting the argument that religion prohibits them from lifting their veils.

Counsel for petitioner M Ajam Khan had contended that asking ‘purdah-nashin’ women to lift their veil for being photographed would amount to sacrilege as their photographs would be seen by many men working as polling agents and electoral officials.

“It will hurt their religious sentiments and the Election Commission must not insist on ‘purdahnashin’ women to be photographed for inclusion of their name in the electoral rolls,” said the counsel arguing before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma.

The order comes at a time when a controversy triggered by the ban on full-length burqas has roiled France, triggering vehement protests from clerics.

The argument on behalf of the petitioners failed to impress the SC. The Bench said: “If you have such strong religious sentiments, and do not want to be seen by members of public, then do not go to vote. You cannot go with burqa to vote. It will create complications in identification of voters.”

Scholars back ruling, say purdah not must

Islamic scholars and religious leaders have urged the community not to oppose the SC ruling, maintaining that the burqa was not mandated by the Quran. ‘‘How else can bogus voting be checked?’’ said scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, adding that the Election Commission should ensure enough women officials at polling booths to encourage Muslim women to come out to vote. P 23

Faceoff With Faith

Petitioner argues it would be sacrilege for ‘purdah-nashin’ women to show faces to polling officials

SC says women can’t vote in burqa as it will hamper identification.

‘If you don’t want to be seen by members of public, then don’t vote’ Says right to contest is extension of right to vote, ‘can anyone contest an election saying photograph of her face be not taken?’

SC: How can voter in burqa be identified?

New Delhi: Referring to the Madras HC order upholding the EC’s insistence for a photograph without veils, the SC Bench said that the elections have been conducted without staying the HC order and that those who do not comply with rules on voter identification not be allowed to vote.

Appearing for the EC, counsel Meenakshi Arora said though electoral rolls were being prepared as per the judgment of the HC, it would be better if the SC gave a verdict that would help reach closure. When petitioners insisted on protection of religious sentiments, the bench said: “If someone comes to vote in a burqa and the photograph was also taken with veil covering the face, how would anyone identify the voter?”

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