The High Court (HC) yesterday ruled that no man or woman can be forced to wear or put off any religious dress, including burqa (veil) and cap, against his or her wish in the territory of Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is now a secular country," the HC ruled, adding that nobody can be compelled to wear a dress against one's wishes in a secular country, SC lawyer Advocate KM Hafizul Alam told The New Nation.
Even, the religious or faith educational institutions cannot force their students to do so, said concerned lawyers.
A bench of the High Court (HC) comprising Justices AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain ruled this while delivering a judgment.
Everybody is independent to wear or not to wear any religious dresses, but they cannot be forced to do so, Deputy Attorney General Nazrul Islam Talukder said.
The four state principles, including secularism of the original Constitution of 1972, have been automatically restored following the judgment given on Fifth Amendment, the Court said.
It also said that all people have right to practice own religious functions but the religious dresses cannot be forced to anybody. Every human being has rights to wear dresses after maintaining decency.
The court directed the Government to inform all educational institutions the matter.
As the secularism was restored, nobody can be forced to wear religious dresses.
The HC passed the judgment after making a suo moto rule absolute that was issued on August 22 this year regarding wearing of burqa.
The Court issued the rule upon the government to explain why compelling women to wear religious dresses would not be declared illegal.
Following the rule, the Government earlier informed the Court that it had issued a circular upon the authorities not to compel the students to wear religious attire.
The rule followed a news item published in a Bangla daily with the title "Rani Bhabani Mohila College, Borka Na Porle Ashte Mana" (Rani Bhabani Women's College, prohibition to enter the college if veils are not wore).
The news item stated the Principal of the college in Natore had stopped cultural activities and sports for female students and restricted them to enter the college without Burqa or veil.
When, SC lawyer Barrister Mahbub Shafique (son of incumbent Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed) and Advocate KM Hafizul Alam drew attention of the Court to the news item, the Court issued the rule.
The government lawyer earlier told the Court that primary truth of the allegations brought against the Principal was found.
The HC also directed the government to probe the matter elaborately. The authorities, if wish, can suspend him temporarily, the Court said.
The Court also directed to take witness of both the students and their guardians during the investigation.