Stating that wearing the hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution is subject to reasonable restrictions, a full bench of the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions filed by Muslim girls studying in pre-university colleges in Udupi seeking the right to wear hijabs in classrooms. Hours after the verdict, one student petitioner moved the Supreme Court challenging the HC’s order, while six others said they would not attend classes till they “get justice”.

On the day of the order, students and their families said the hijab is both an educational and social imperative — but that they may now be forced to choose one over the other. The father of one student said “education and religion are like our two eyes and we want both”; a final-year student said she may be forced to drop out; another spoke of having to make the difficult decision to “move on”.

Only in the Express

A day after senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the Gandhis must allow someone else to lead the party, former Union minister and Congress Working Committee member Salman Khurshid told The Indian Express the party was facing a “crisis of ideas” and not crisis of leadership. He said the argument that shortcomings in the party’s performance was only because “we don’t have the right leader is not acceptable”.

In what potentially presents the first signs of unsustainability in the existing quick commerce — or q-commerce — model, 10-minute grocery delivery company Blinkit has agreed to merge with food-tech platform Zomato as the former finds itself in a cash-crunched situation, two people aware of the matter told The Indian Express. While Zomato has said it will be extending a $150-million loan to Grofers India Pvt Ltd to support the latter’s “capital requirements” in the near-term, it is learnt that shareholders of Blinkit will get one share of Zomato per 10 shares of Blinkit held.

From the Front Page

In a searing attack on opponents of the BJP, PM Narendra Modi, referring to the response to The Kashmir Files film on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s, said it has rattled the “entire ecosystem” which claims to be the torchbearer of freedom of expression but does not want the truth to be told. He said it is not an issue about a film, but that of “bringing out the truth” and “presenting history in its correct perspective”..

Bhagwant Mann takes oath as Punjab’s 18th Chief Minister in Khatkar Kalan today, the village of Bhagat Singh. Ahead of the ceremony, the AAP has asked people to turn up in ‘basanti’ turbans and dupattas that prominently showcase the colour yellow, which is associated with the freedom fighter. The theme of the event is “Rang De Basanti”, a song said to have been sung by the prisoners when Singh was hanged. At least 4 lakh people are expected to attend the event.

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In what was widely seen as one-upmanship between alliance partners BJP and JD(U), Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha sparred in the Assembly over the running of the House. The incident, however, didn’t occur in isolation. The tense relationship between the two alliance partners can be traced back to a turf war between Munger MP and JD(U)’s national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh, alias Lalan Singh, and Sinha who is an MLA from Lakhisarai, which is a part of the Munger Lok Sabha seat. It wasn’t long before the turf war turned into a full-fledged battle between the parties soon after over a dozen BJP workers joined the JD(U) last fortnight.

Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, writes on the Karnataka High Court’s hijab ruling: “The judgment is a clear setback to the liberty model of administration as it says fundamental rights have relative content and their efficacy levels depend upon the circumstances in which they are sought to be exercised. The court even said that the petitions do not involve the claim about substantive rights such as the right to privacy and freedom of expression but merely derivative rights.” Read his opinion column here.

While Covid restrictions are slowly being lifted across the globe, the pandemic is showing signs of resurgence in a few areas, most notably in China where a sudden rise in cases is being reported. In China, where cases had dwindled to two digit figures as early as in April 2020, things have changed drastically in the last three weeks. In the last ten days, the country has reported a daily average of nearly 700 new cases. Amitabh Sinha explains what may have led to this resurgence.

Business As Usual by E P Unny

And Finally…

Anirban Lahiri has been playing on the prestigious PGA Tour for a long time but had almost become the forgotten man of Indian golf. But on Monday, during the delayed finish of the Players Championship at the acclaimed TPC Sawgrass, the Indian scripted nothing short of a Cinderella story. And though he finished short by a shot, Lahiri gave ample indication that he could be back in the big league after years in the wilderness.

🤫 Delhi Confidential: The Opposition on Tuesday gave a thumbs up to Speaker Om Birla in Lok Sabha when he ruled that one minister should give replies to all supplementary questions related to a particular starred question. Birla’s decision was prompted by an incident that took place in the lower house yesterday, when although Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti was answering a question on PMAY-G, Cabinet Minister Giriraj Singh got up to reply to a supplementary question.

🎧 In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we speak to two students about their life after being evacuated from Ukraine, then we discuss why Indian farmers are expected to benefit from the crisis, and finally we look at the impact on air fares.

Until tomorrow,

Leela Murali and Rahel Philipose