QUEENSLAND: The Supreme Court of Australia’s Queensland has overturned a law, which banned Sikh religious daggers (kirpan) in schools, and called the legislation ‘inconsistent’, The Australia Today reported.
The court found that banning Sikh religious symbols is ‘racial discrimination’ and falls under the Racial Discrim-ination Act.
Australian Sikh woman Kamaljit Kaur Athwal took the state government to court last year, after Queensland in-troduced a law barring Sikhs to carry a Kirpan inside schools, and claimed that the ‘Weapons Act was discriminato-ry’. The court initially dismissed Kamaljit’s claim but after an appeal, the court noted that the legislation was “incon-sistent”, reported The Australia Today.
The Australia Today is an Australia-based online News portal.
The court said, “Carrying a kirpan as a symbol of a religious commitment would, at least ordinarily, constitute a use of the knife for a lawful purpose – namely, religious observance. To say that both Sikhs and non-Sikhs cannot practise their religion while wearing a knife ignores the fact that carrying a knife is only a feature of the religious observance of Sikhs.”
The three judges in the Court of Appeal further added, “A law which prohibits a person from carrying a knife in a school for religious purposes impacts Sikhs by preventing them from lawfully entering schools while adhering to their religious beliefs. No other group finds their freedom of religion or freedom of movement limited in that way.”
Meanwhile, Queensland’s police minister Mark Ryan while talking with the reporters said that they are looking into it and will convey the Queensland’s position on religious draggers being carried in the school to the common-wealth attorney general. He also stated that he will talk to the attorney general about their good work in trying to reduce knife crime and the efforts that they have done to do that, according to The Australia Today.
Two years ago in a New South Wales school, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed twice by a 14-year-old with a Kir-pan. Based on this incident, the NSW government too has banned all students from carrying knives to schools. However, this ban was soon lifted after community outrage and due consultation processes. (ANI)