'Bangle' girl case goes to court

London, UK - The case of a 14-year-old Sikh girl excluded from school for wearing a religious bangle will be heard in the High Court, it has been decided.

Sarika Singh has not attended school since being told she cannot wear her bracelet, known as a kara.

Human rights group Liberty claims Aberdare Girls' School in Rhondda Cynon Taf school has breached race relations and human rights laws.

It is expected to put the matter before the High Court in the coming months.

Ann Fairclough, Liberty's legal officer who is representing the Singhs, said: "Nothing less than our traditions of religious freedom and racial tolerance are on trial in this case.

"Individuals from any religion who wish to modestly express their faith should not be denied a proper education as Ms Singh has."

Taught in isolation

Liberty claims the school is also breaching a 25-year-old Law Lords' decision allowing Sikhs to wear items such as turbans to school.

An interim hearing will be held in the next two weeks to decide whether Sarika, the only Sikh at her school, can return to classroom while the case is continuing.

She had been taught in isolation at the school for two months, and has been excluded since the beginning of November.

The school has banned students from wearing any jewellery other than plain ear studs and wristwatches.

Sarika has refused to remove the bangle and her family has said it is an important Sikh reminder to do good with the hands, and should not be regarded as jewellery.

Liberty claims the school is violating the Race Relations Act 1976, the Equality Act 2006 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

School governors previously rejected her request to wear the bangle after a "significant period of research" examining the uniform policy and human rights legislation in detail.

New guidelines published by the Welsh Assembly Government last week said school governors should take in religious views and consider whether their uniform policy interferes with the right to manifest a religion or belief.