London, June 18 : A lady lawyer representing the 14-year-old school girl in South Wales, London, who was barred from her school for wearing 'kara', argued before a high court judge that the bracelet was a matter of faith and not fashion or a piece of jewellery.
She said that a school uniform policy should not override religious faiths of the pupils. The lawyer also referred the judge to a photograph of Monty Panesar, the first Sikh cricketer to play for England, wearing a similar 'kara'.
The high court judge Justice Silber has been asked to rule on whether the uniform policy was lawful, and whether it had complied with its race relations obligations.
Helen Mountfield, counsel for Sarika, the Sikh school girl, told the court, "there is no string of authority to say that school uniform rules may trump religious dress codes". She maintained that barring the school girl from school amounted to racial discrimination according to the law of the land.
"This policy, and the steps taken to enforce it amount to unlawful - because insufficiently justified - indirect discrimination on grounds of race, contrary to the 1976 Race Relations Act, and religion, contrary to the 2006 Equality Act," The Telegraph quoted the lawyer as saying.
Sarika has attended the school since September 2005, and in April 2007 a teacher noticed her bangle, and asked her to remove it. She refused and asked for an exemption from the policy, claiming that wearing the Kara on her right wrist was central to her ethnic identity and religious observance.
While the school considered her application, she was allowed to attend the school wearing the Kara, but was taught in isolation and kept socially segregated from her friends.