Press Release: Monday, 5 December 2005, (22nd Maghar, Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)

French Sikh Wins Right to Wear Turban

Court: There is no law that requires a Sikh to bare his head for a driver's licence photograph

Paris, France—The French High Court, the Conseil d'Etat, ruled today that a French Sikh has a right to wear his Turban for his driver's licence photo. The court ordered that Shingara Singh Mann be given his driver's licence within a month.

Shingara Singh( extreme right) and a UNITED SIKHS delegation with the MEPs in the European parliament.
Shingara Singh (extreme right) and a UNITED SIKHS delegation with the MEPs in the European parliament.

The court ruled that the decision of the administration in Val d'Oise, to require Singh to bare his head for his driver's licence photograph, was illegal. The court said that there is no law that requires a Sikh to bear his head for his driver's licence photograph. Click here for the judgment in French and an English translation.

The court said that the administration could not rely on a 1999 Order of the Interior Ministry to refuse a licence as it was outside the authority of that Ministry to regulate the issuing of driver's licence. It went on to say that the Transport Ministry has authority to make rules on the documentation required for a drivers licence. However, there is no requirement in the 1999 Order of the Transport Ministry that requires one's head to be bare for a driver's licence photograph.

"The High Court today has effectively suspended an earlier decision of the Administrative Court which had ruled, after an injunctive hearing, that the Administration had acted legally for requiring Shingara Singh to remove his Turban for his Driver's licence photo," said Francois Jacquot, a French lawyer engaged by UNITED SIKHS and the French Action Committee for the Sikh Turban.

"Today's High Court decision is significant as Shingara Singh will have his driver's licence soon without having to wait for the outcome of the substantive case in the Administrative Court," he added.

Mr Jacquot said that whilst the High Court's decision does not bind the Administrative Court, today's decision will have an impact on the lower court as a question of law has been decided. The decision of the High Court only affects the wearing of a Turban for a driver's licence, Mr Jacquot explained.

"I am very pleased that the French judiciary acted robustly in not allowing the French Turban ban law in schools to be extended into other areas by over-zealous administrators," said Kudrat Singh, director of the UNITED SIKHS chapter in France.

"UNITED SIKHS took up Shingara Singh's case as it affected a Sikh's right to practise his religion and it affected the future of Sikhs in France. We have worked on this case against all odds and we thank the Sikh community for its support," he added.

"I am very pleased with the outcome as a Sikh's right to practise his religion has been upheld and the integrity of the Sikh community has been preserved," said Shingara Singh, who is also a director of UNITED SIKHS.

To read a previous Press Releases on this case see: www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-14-02-2005-00.htm

For more information on the Right to Turban campaign, please link to: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt/

Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
Tel: (0044) (0) 870 199 3328

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