Unrelated courtroom footage falsely linked to Indian hijab row

·3-min read

Footage of a heated courtroom exchange has been viewed thousands of times in social media posts that claim it shows a judge stripping the licence of a Muslim lawyer who fought against a hijab ban in Karnataka, India. However, the state's bar council told AFP no lawyer had been stripped of their licence over the hijab case. The video in the posts shows a judge reprimanding a lawyer for an unrelated court case.

"Some senior Muslim lawyer was trying to fool the Bench of Karnataka High Court," reads a tweet posted on March 19.

"The court stripping the lawyer who was defending the petitioners on Hijab …. people must know how serious is this issue and how foolish the lawyer to bring this up to CJ Karnataka."

The video, viewed more than 10,000 times, shows a heated exchange between a judge and lawyer.

"Call the president of the bar association. Immediately, we are going to take action against this person," the judge says.

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on March 31, 2022 ( Uzair RIZVI)

India's Karnataka state was on edge for several weeks after a small group of teenage girls were prevented from wearing hijabs on school grounds at the end of 2021.

Demonstrations snowballed across the state and police used tear gas to disperse angry crowds as more schools imposed their own bans and radical Hindu groups staged counter-demonstrations.

After weeks of deliberations, Karnataka's high court ruled that the wearing of the hijab "does not form a part of essential religious practice in Islamic faith".

The video was shared in similar posts on Facebook here, here, and here.

However, the video is unrelated to India's hijab row.

Misrepresented video

A reverse image search and keyword search found the video corresponds to the 38:34 mark of a longer video posted on March 3 on the YouTube channel of the High Court of Karnataka.

AFP reviewed the YouTube footage and found it contains no reference to the hijab case.

The clip shows a judge reprimanding a lawyer for allegedly failing to disclose case-related information to the court. The case was a commercial appeal involving Bengaluru's municipal body. Court documents here and here say the lawyer apologised and was let off with no further action taken against him.

Below is a screenshot of the judgement published on March 4, 2022, where the lawyer was let off:

Screenshot of the judgement published on March 4, 2022 ( Uzair RIZVI)

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the YouTube footage (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the YouTube footage (right)

A representative for the Karnataka State Bar Council said no lawyers had been stripped of their licence for reasons related to the hijab row.

"No lawyer related to the hijab case was suspended or had his licence stripped off by the court or the bar association," the body's chairman Motakpalli Kashinath told AFP.

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