Banning of Kirpans in Courthouses Unacceptable

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is very concerned that Tejinder Singh Sidhu was denied entry into the Calgary Courthouse because of his wearing of the kirpan. Mr. Sidhu had been subpoenaed to testify as a witness but was denied the opportunity to fulfill his civic duty because of a prohibition on the kirpan.

The kirpan is worn at all times by ‘initiated’ or ‘amritdhari’ Sikhs. The refusal to accommodate the wearing of the kirpan in effect excludes many Sikh Canadians from full participation in the legal system and from serving in important capacities such as being on juries or testifying as witnesses at trials.

Canadian courts have recognized that the kirpan is an important Sikh article of faith and not a weapon. “In its unanimous ruling in the Multani case, the Supreme Court of Canada has already definitively put this issue to rest. Our highest court has determined that a Sikh wearing a kirpan must be accommodated. It is unacceptable that despite this ruling, Sikhs are still prohibited from entering a courthouse with their kirpans, particularly when they are there to fulfill their civic duties as Canadians,” said Palbinder Kaur Shergill, the General Legal Counsel for the WSO.

“It is a waste of valuable resources when Sikhs have to continuously face challenges to the kirpan, despite clear and unequivocal direction from the Supreme Court of Canada. It is imperative that court personnel take direction from the very Courts which we all rely on as Canadians, to ensure the upholding of the rule of law,” said, Gurpreet Singh Bal, President of WSO Canada.

While the WSO recognizes that it is important to ensure security at courthouses, prohibiting the right of a Sikh to freely practice their faith based on irrational fears and speculation, is a violation of Charter rights. The WSO calls on all Attorney Generals and administrators of court services across the country to review their policies to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.

For more information, please contact Maj (retd.) Jasbeer Singh, Media Relations, Tel. 780-457-3333, Cell. 780-235-6000, email: magmaint@hotmail.com

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Gian Singh Sandhu, Senior Policy Advisor, Tel. 250-305-2440, email:  Gian@JackpineGroup.com