- An employment tribunal ruled today (18th May 2011) that a Sikh Prison officer was not discriminated against when he was asked to remove his Kirpan, his article of faith, even though a proposal to allow the wearing of the Kirpan had already been agreed in principle, following comprehensive consultation by the Ministry of Justice.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/united-sikhs/35429-uk-tribunal-kirpan-ban-justified-against.html
Employment Judge NJ Roper who delivered the reserved judgment said that Prison Service Orders, PSO 4550, were in effect a blanket ban on the wearing of a Kirpan in prisons by anyone other than a Sikh prison chaplain.
“Since 2004 the Ministry of Justice has been aware that it is necessary to balance the need for security and safety within prisons, with the need to ensure that the Prison Service is not discriminating against baptised Sikhs by excluding them from working in prisons,” Judge Roper said in the judgment.
“We have seen an e-mail from Mrs McAllister the Head of Security Group of the Prison Service dated 7 December 2004 in which she suggests "in order to balance faith needs and security considerations, but with regard to the primacy of security, it seems appropriate to move away from a blanket ban on the wearing of kirpans", he added.
“The Kirpan is an article of faith which signifies compassion and reminds a Sikh to uphold the truth,” Jagdip Singh said in defense of his right to wear his Kirpan
The Employment Tribunal sitting in Birmingham had heard that a comprehensive consultation was carried out in 2008 by the National Offender Management Service (“NOMS”), an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice which is responsible for prison and probation matters. This included a risk analysis following which a proposal was made in January 2009, before Jagdip Singh commenced his employment s a prison officer, to approve in principle the wearing of the Kirpan by prison staff.
However, in Nov 2009, a new Director General of NOMS, Mr Wheatley, in response to an inquiry by Jagdip Singh’s MP about his dismissal, opposed the proposal.
“As at the date of this hearing, the Prison Service has not amended PSO 4550 to allow prison staff to carry the Kirpan,” noted Judge Roper.
“The Tribunal heard evidence of the risk analysis and the proposal to allow the wearing if the Kirpan by prison staff, yet the Tribunal chose to ignore the preponderance of evidence in favour of allowing the wearing of the Kirpan, “ said Mejindarpal Kaur, Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS, who was approached for help by Jagdip Singh in 2009 following his dismissal for wearing his Kirpan.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=35429
“Judge Roper said in his judgment that an initiated Sikh is not protected from indirect discrimination under the Race Relation Act because he is not a separate and distinct class from non-initiated Sikhs. He then said that since the evidence suggests that only 10 per cent of UK Sikhs are initiated, the Kirpan ban does not discriminate the majority of Sikhs because its impact was small,” added Mejindarpal Kaur.
You may read a previous press release on UNITED SIKHS’ advocacy for Sikh articles of faith globally at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressRele...5-2011-00.html Issued by:
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