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UK Sikh MP writes to Justice Secy after kirpan-wielding man barred from jury duty

Jatinder Singh was made to “feel like a criminal” after he was prevented from taking part in jury service at Birmingham Crown Court last month: Preet Kaur Gill to Alex Chalk

London, Nov 7, 2023- Stating that Sikhs’ rights and religious freedoms need to be respected, British Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill wrote to the UK Justice Secretary after a man from the community was barred from taking part in jury service for carrying a kirpan (religious dagger).

In a letter addressed to Alex Chalk, Gill said Jatinder Singh was made to “feel like a criminal” after he was prevented from taking part in jury service at the Birmingham Crown Court last month.

“I believe this incident highlights a pressing issue that requires attention to ensure that individuals, regardless of their religious background, can engage in civic duties without facing discrimination,” Gill said in her letter published in BirminghamLive.

Baptised Sikhs are required to carry the five Ks with them at all times, as a symbol of their faith, which include Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (bangle), Kanga (comb); Kaccha (undercloth) and Kirpan (dagger).

“Mr Singh, who possesses a Kirpan as permitted by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, found himself being refused entry to the court during his jury service. This incident is deeply concerning, as it not only raises issues of religious freedom but also affects the credibility and inclusivity of our legal system,” the MP from Edgbaston stated in the letter last week.

“It is vital that we ensure that individuals like Mr Singh, who are summoned to perform their civic duties, are able to do so without any compromise to their religious beliefs,” she added.

Jatinder said he adhered to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) guidelines for Sikh community members wishing to enter a court building and was wearing a five-inch sword.

The MoJ rules allow bringing in a kirpan not more than six inches long (15 cm) and with a blade no more than five inches (12 cm) in length.

While the MoJ said Jatinder was released from his duties as there was a surplus of required jurors, His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service apologised to him “for any distress caused”.

It said that they have reminded their contracted security officers of the correct steps to be taken to prevent such incidents from happening again. (Agency)

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