UK School face £200,000
legal bill for banning Sikh kara (bangle)
July 30, 2008
NRI Sikh school girl Sarika Watkins Singh, 15, won the case to
bear kara (bangle) in July 2008 and last week,
judge ordered the Aberdare Girls’ School, in Aberdare to
pay legal bills of £200,000.
Sarika was excluded from school for refusing to stop wearing
the bangle but the school denied any racial discrimination. She
was out of school for nine months because the kara (bangle) was
against its uniform policy
The school’s own legal fees top £76,000. The school,
with an annual budget of around £2.2million, has already
paid £60,000 to Liberty but disputes an extra bill of £80,000.
Nick Seaton, Chairman of the Real Education said, “This
is 200,000 pounds which is likely to come out of the school’s
budget. It means that the students will suffer.”
girl wins court battle to wear religious bangle
London, July 30, 2008
NRI Sikh school girl, Sarika Watkins Singh, 14, won the case
to wear her Kara (bangle) in school when
she was dismissed from school.
Most of the NRIs believe that this issue could have been resolved
by the school and the local authority meeting their statutory
duty under the Race Relations Act and the Equality Act.
Sarika can get on with her education and that both she and the
school can put this unfortunate incident behind them. From this
court battle, all schools and education authorities learn from
the case and ensure that no such problems emerge in the future.
First the Court re-affirmed the decision in Mandla v.Dowell Lee
that Sikhs constitute both an ethnic and a religious group and
are therefore protected from racial and religious discrimination.
The Court ruled that although wearing the kara is not a requirement
for non-Amrit-tauri Sikhs, it is of exceptional importance to
the racial and religious identity of observant Sikhs. The argument
that indirect discrimination could only occur if wearing the kara
was an absolute requirement was rejected. Indirect discrimination
still took place if a person was prevented from wearing an object
which was of exceptional importance to their religious or racial
The Court also emphasized that the case could have no wider implications
for two reasons. First, it did not overturn the schools uniform
policy, it merely ruled that an exemption should be granted in
this case. Second, it pointed out that the kara was an unobtrusive
object which could not be compared to the niqab and jihab. (In
other cases, schools have won cases in the courts allowing them
to ban them).
The Court also pointed out that many schools have no problem
with the kara. It also highlighted the good practice in local
authorities such as Redbridge, Birmingham and Swansea.