What is a split verdict and what does it mean in the judiciary system?
The hijab ban case from Karnataka has fuelled fire all over the country. Karnataka high court order prohibiting the use of headscarves worn by Muslim girls was heard by the Supreme Court of India on Thursday. However, the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India for constituting a larger bench. But what does a split verdict mean?
The split verdict can be defined as a verdict in which one party prevails on some claims, while the other party prevails on others. In simpler terms, when two judges referring to a single use have different opinions and judgment is not unanimous, it is called a Split verdict. This happens when the Bench constitutes of even number of judges. The reason why judges usually sit in Benches of odd numbers (three, five, seven, etc.) for important cases,
What happens after a split verdict?
In a split verdict scenario, the case is passed on to a third jurist or bench. The larger Bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge Bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court. But in this case, there is a twist, the CJI, who is the ‘master of the roster, will constitute a new, larger Bench for appropriate directions and guidance.
What are the verdicts of the two judges involved in the Karnataka Hijab Ban case?
The High-court Bench for the Karnataka Hijab Ban case included Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Hemant Gupta. However, both of the jury members had a clash of opinions. Such as:
Setting aside the Karnataka High Court judgment, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia questioned whether the hijab is an essential religious practice in Islam and whether this dispute is of no meaning. He mentioned, “The high court took a wrong path. It is ultimately a matter of choice and Article 14 and Article 19. It is a matter of choice, nothing more, nothing less.”
Whereas Justice Hemant Gupta in his video said that this matter involves a substantial question of law and should be referred to a five-judge bench is “not tenable”. He framed 11 questions on the ambit and scope of the right of freedom of conscience and religion under Article 25 and the right to essential religious practices under Article 25.
FYI, Karnataka Hijab Ban is a dispute about school uniforms in the Indian state of Karnataka. Muslim students of a junior college wearing the headscarf were denied entry on the grounds on the grounds of uniform policy violation. The dispute spread to other schools and colleges across the state, with groups of Hindu students staging counter-protests by demanding to wear saffron scarves. After which on February 5, the Karnataka government issued an order stating uniforms mandatory with no exception for hijab.