British Sikh girl wins right to wear kada in school

July 29th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 29 (IANS) A British Sikh teenager Tuesday won a high-profile legal case to be allowed to wear a ‘kada’ in school. Aberdare Girls’ High School near Cardiff in South Wales had excluded 14-year-old Sarika Singh on the grounds that the ‘kada’ was a piece of jewellery and that the school did not allow students to wear any jewellery.

Sarika will now be allowed to return to the school in September so that she can start preparing for her class 11 exams, a High Court judge declared, ruling in her favour in a case that grabbed the attention of Sikhs and human rights campaigners around the world.

“In this case there is very clear evidence it was not a piece of jewellery but to Sarika was, and remains, one of the defining focal symbols of being a Sikh,” judge Stephen Silber said.

Sarika, whose case was supported by thousands of Sikh individuals and organisations the world over as well as the British civil rights organisation Liberty, argued that the ‘kada’ was not a mere piece of jewellery to followers of her faith.

Justice Silber accepted her claim of discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, and rejected the school’s argument that the bangle could be seen as a “symbol of affluence”.

After the judgment, Sarika’s mother, Sinita, 38, said: “We are over the moon. It is just such a relief.”

Sarika said: “I am overwhelmed by the outcome and it’s marvellous to know that the long journey I’ve been on has finally come to an end.

“I’m so happy to know that no-one else will go through what me and my family have gone through.”

She added: “I just want to say that I am a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl.”

Anna Fairclough, Liberty’s legal officer who was representing the Singhs, said: “This common sense judgment makes clear you must have a very good reason before interfering with someone’s religious freedom.

“Our great British traditions of religious tolerance and race equality have been rightly upheld today.”

The judge refused the school permission to appeal, although it can still seek permission from the Court of Appeal.

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