A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court by Nikhil Upadhyay, son of Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking implementation of Common Dress Code in registered and State recognized Educational Institutions in order to secure social equality, assure dignity and promote fraternity, unity and national integration.
The petition also points out that the implementation of a common dress code is important to uphold and give effect to the principle of secularism and neutrality in the interest of harmony, discipline and fairness.
The Petitioner has arrayed all the states and Union Territories as parties to the Petition filed by Advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
The petitioner submits in the petition that, "role of universal education for strengthening social fabric of democracy through provisions of equal opportunity to all has been accepted since the inception of our republic. Thus, Common Dress Code is not only necessary to enhance the values of equality, social justice, democracy and to create a just and humane society but also essential to curtail the biggest menace of casteism, communalism, classism, radicalism, separatism and fundamentalism."
Drawing a comparison between other countries the petitioner submits that all schools and colleges adhere to a common dress code despite frequent challenges to the constitutionality of dress guidelines. It is also submitted that the Common Dress Code reduces violence in schools and also promotes a positive educational environment which also aids in reducing the violence that occurs due to socio-economic differences like bullying.
The Petitioner also states that, "Students score better when there is a common dress code. The use of a common dress code helps to enhance school and community pride. When students follow a Common Dress Code then there are higher levels of pride associated with such an action. Over 1,000 Schools in Texas were studied to look at the impact of uniforms in classroom and researchers noted that there were significantly higher positive perceptions about the entire community when compared to those who wear whatever they want. When there is a sense of belonging created in the classroom, then there are higher levels of caring, respect, and trust throughout the school. The students feel like they are part of a team instead of trying to do everything by themselves." The petitioner also submitted that having a school uniform reduces the absence rate in students by around 10%. The presence of dress code creates a more disciplined environment.
The petition has been filed at a time when protests are being held in several areas of the country against hijab curbs in Karnataka.
It is contended by the petitioners that educational institutions are secular public places and are meant to impart knowledge.
The petition also states, "It is very essential to introduce a Common Dress Code in all Schools-Colleges to preserve the secular character of educational institutions, otherwise tomorrow Naga Sadhus may take admission in colleges and attend the class without clothes citing essential religious practice. Petitioner submits that Common Dress Code is not only necessary to maintain uniformity but also to instill a sense of camaraderie among students from different caste, creed, faith, religion, culture and place."
The petitioner has prayed for the following reliefs:-
1. Direct the Centre and States to strictly implement a Common Dress Code for staff and students in all the registered and recognized educational institutions in order to secure equality of status and social equality and to promote fraternity dignity unity national integration.
2. Direct the Centre to constitute a Judicial Commission or an Expert Committee to suggest steps to inculcate the value of social economic justice and socialism secularism and democracy and to promote fraternity dignity unity and national integration among the students.
3. Direct the Law Commission of India to prepare a report suggesting steps to secure social equality and to promote fraternity dignity unity and national integration within 3 months.