Lawyers for 6 Schools Challenge Competence of Students’ Veil Case


By Mariama Marong

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court is set to deliver a ruling on 21 March 2024 on whether the veil (hijab) hijab case is competent or not.

The lawyers for the six (6) schools have made their submissions that the case is incompetent and asked the high court to strike it out. On the other hand, Senior Counsel Borry S. Darboe for the students and the interested organization argued that the case against the schools and the Government is competent and valid.

Lawyer Touray submitted that the case is an application for enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in sections 25, 33 and 37 of the 1997 constitution. He stated that the students felt that their rights had been violated and an action should be taken to address the situation.

Senior Counsel Yassin Senghore argued that the suit against Charles Jaw Memorial Academy should be struck out by the court because it is incompetent.

“The issues raised by the applicants in this matter cannot be determined under the originating summons procedure,” she said.

Lawyer Senghore submitted the summons and supporting affidavits filed by applicants are incompetent.

Senior Counsel Victoria Andrews also stated that there is no cause of action against Reverend J.C. Faye Memorial School.

V. Andrews submitted that the school is operating within the Anglican Diocese of The Gambia. She stated that it cannot sue or be sued.

“The Anglican Communion in the Diocese of The Gambia( J.C. Faye School) has no business with the applicants,” she said.

Counsel Andrews argued that applicants requesting monetary compensation in the form of damage cannot be granted under the originating summons process filed by the applicant’s counsel.

Senior Counsels Rachel Y. Mendy and A. Mendy also stated that the suit against Gambia Senior Secondary School, St. Therese’s Upper Basic School, Grace Bilingual School and St. Peters Senior Secondary School are incompetent. They called on the court to strike out the case because the students had no case against the schools.

Lawyer Borry S. Touray opposed the applications of the lawyers for the schools asking the court to strike out the case. He said the case was competent, adding that he had filed an amended originating summons. He invited the court to consider the alleged violation of the rights of the students. He submitted that the students are entitled to compensation.

The judge will rule on the next adjourned date whether to continue with the case or whether he will strike out the case on grounds of incompetence.

Readers would recall that the case was brought before Justice Jaiteh on 4 May 2023. They are asking for a court order directing the schools to allow Muslim female students to wear their veil or hijab as an expression of their Islamic beliefs. They want the court to declare the action of the schools stopping them from wearing the veil as unconstitutional and a clear violation of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1997 constitution. They want the court to declare the school rules, regulations and policies that forbid them from wearing veils in their schools as void.

The applicants are Kadijatou Saidy – 1st applicant, Maimuna H. Jawo – 2nd applicant, Fatou Binta Darboe – 3rd applicant, and Aasiya A. Darbo – 4th applicant while the 5th and 6th applicants are both minors.

The respondents’ schools are Gambia Secondary School, Revered J.C. Faye Memorial School, St. Peter’s Senior Secondary School, St. Therese’s Upper Basic School, Grace Bilingual School and Charles Jow Memorial Academy plus Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Attorney General.

The case will be coming on 21 March 2024 at 2:15 for a ruling on the competence of the case. Can the students sue the schools using originating summons? The judge will answer.