An Indian-origin Sikh, who became UK’s first-ever ethnic minority judge and the first to sit on the English Bench wearing a turban instead of a horsehair wig, has died. He was 86.
Mota Singh was found unconscious on Friday and was taken to hospital but did not recover, the metro.co.uk reported.
Paying tribute to him, his wife Swaran Kaur said: “He was a wonderful person who achieved so much in his life. He was so hard working.”
Singh, a Ramgarhia Sikh, born in 1930 in Nairobi, Kenya, was only 16 when his father Dalip Singh passed away.
He was forced to leave school in order to look after his family, which included his widowed mother, who was only 32 at that time, and his five younger siblings.
Singh’s schoolteachers, knowing that he was gifted, convinced his family that he should complete his matriculation.
While looking after his family during the day, Singh pursued his law studies at night and in 1953, came to England to complete the second part of his studies.
He joined the English Bar in 1967 and was appointed to the bench in 1982. In 2010, Singh received a knighthood from the Queen, the highest civilian honour for his services to the administration of justice and community relations.
Tributes have been pouring in on Twitter, with entrepreneur Rami Ranger calling him a “great ambassador for the Sikh and Indian community”.