Supreme Court Case Study: To Sikhs The Kirpan

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In 2001, a thirteen-year-old orthodox Sikh named Gurbaj Singh, living in Quebec, accidentally dropped his kirpan (a metal sword) while playing outside in the schoolyard. A letter was then sent to his parents describing the conditions by which he could wear his symbolic kirpan, which represented spiritual wisdom. “To Sikhs the Kirpan is religiously symbolic of their spirituality and the constant struggle of good and morality over the forces of evil and injustice, both on an individual as well as social level.” So long as it was concealed inside his clothing he was free to bring it to school. His parents agreed to the conditions, as it was a vital cultural and religious right of passage for their son to wear his kirpan. However, the governing school board …show more content…

For instance, the Supreme Court of Canada considered when to recognize a particular practice as a religious requirement. The decision then dealt with the appropriate method for accommodating religious practice in a multicultural society. The school board argued that it had to protect the safety of the rest of the students for the sake of infringing on one students rights. However, this court case provided importance, pointed to a minimum constitutional protection for freedom of religion that must be taken into account by the legislature and by administrative tribunals. In addition, safety concerns must be established for the infringement of a constitutional right to be justified. In response, the Court gave new guidance to administrative bodies dealing with charter issues, stating that administrative bodies must apply the principles of constitutional justification when a Charter right has been infringed. These principles have existed since the inception of the charter 20 years ago. These key principles are in no way a perfect formula for assessing infringements but they do act as a precautionary guide to determining whether a violation has

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