Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar has welcomed the ruling of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) directing the French government to review its 2004 decision of imposing a ban on wearing of turbans by Sikhs.
"The UNHRC decision has come as a major relief for the Sikh community, particularly those residing in France and other countries. The SGPC too welcomes this decision and hopes the French government abides by the ruling and lifts the ban, which was in contravention to the rights of the Sikhs to wear their headgear," he said in a statement issued here on Saturday.
The UNHRC has given the ruling on a 2008 complaint filed by a Sikh, Bikramjit Singh, who had been expelled from a school in France in November 2004 after he refused to stop wearing his 'keski' (small turban).
The UNHRC stated that the 2004 law violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It accepted that wearing a turban is regarded as a religious duty of a Sikh and that the French government had not justified the prohibition. The UNHRC has also asked the French government to compensate Bikramjit Singh.
Makkar has appealed to the French government to abide by the UNHRC ruling and lift the ban. He also appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to impress upon the French government to do away with the restriction.
When the ban was imposed, the SGPC had made appeals to the French government to lift it as it was a violation of the religious rights of Sikhs, The religious body had, in a written communiqué, explained the importance of the headgear and other religious symbols of the Sikhs to the French government.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had taken up the issue with the French government, which however refused to relent.