Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 15:00 UK

'Bangle' girl begins ruling wait

Sarika Singh
Sarika Singh was excluded from Aberdare Girls' School in November

A schoolgirl may have to wait until next month for the outcome of her legal bid to topple a school's decision to exclude her for wearing a Sikh bangle.

At the end of a three day hearing, a High Court judge has reserved his ruling and said his decision may not come until the end of July.

Sarika Watkins-Singh was banned from Aberdare Girls' School, south Wales as she would not remove the bangle.

The hearing in London looked at whether the school's decision was justified.

The 14-year-old from Cwmbach, near Aberdare, who was excluded last November, has claimed unlawful discrimination.

At the beginning of the hearing, her barrister Helen Mountfield said the bangle - known as a Kara - means as much to Sarika as it does to England cricketer Monty Panesar.

She told Mr Justice Silber it is one of the symbols of their Sikh faith and not a piece of jewellery.

Ear studs

The school, at which Sarika was the only Sikh pupil among 600 girls, does not permit jewellery other than wristwatches and plain ear studs.

But Sarika's lawyers claimed the school's policy was inflexible and a violation of race equality and general human rights laws.

Jonathan Auburn for Aberdare Girls' School, rejected claims the school had adopted an inflexible and overly-rigid policy, also insisting that the school authorities were never "blind to exceptions".

Ms Mountfield said the Kara was one of the five Ks of Sikhism, the others being the Kesh (uncut hair), the Kanga (wooden comb), the Kaccha (cotton underwear) and the Kirpan (sword).

The Kara is worn by more Sikhs than the turban, which is not one of the Ks, she said.

In February, Sarika enrolled at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, which allows her to wear the Kara, pending the outcome of her court challenge.

Her mother, Sinita, 38, has said that, although Mountain Ash is a good school, her daughter's education suffered as a result of the move and the stress involved in the run-up to her GCSEs.

Last Friday, the family travelled to 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to intervene in the matter "to show discrimination is totally unacceptable".




SEE ALSO
Senedd protest for 'bangle' girl
15 Jan 08 |  South East Wales
School fights bangle case 'alone'
24 Jan 08 |  South East Wales
'Bangle' girl case goes to court
23 Jan 08 |  South East Wales
'Bangle' pupil is excluded again
13 Nov 07 |  South East Wales
Legal challenge for 'bangle' girl
04 Jan 08 |  South East Wales

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