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US Sikh students can carry kirpans

The Detroit University in the United States is reviewing its public safety rules. The review has come after a judge ruled in favour of a Sikh student who was arrested for carrying the kirpan, a short dagger, as enjoined by his religion.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 12:20 IST

Court makes it official on pupils’ plea

The Detroit University in the United States is reviewing its public safety rules. The review has come after a judge ruled in favour of a Sikh student who was arrested for carrying the kirpan, a short dagger, as enjoined by his religion.

Sukhpreet Singh Garcha, 23, was arrested on the campus of Wayne State University on August 14 last year for carrying a 10-inch kirpan. He was charged with violating Detroit's knife ordinance, which prohibits carrying knives with blades longer than three inches.

Detroit 36th District Court Judge Rudy Serra ruled last month that the knife ordinance was intended to apply to people carrying a "knife as a weapon or for some unlawful purpose". According to The Detroit News, as Garcha was carrying the kirpan for religious reasons, the ordinance did not apply, the judge said.

"There is no question that forbidding him from wearing the kirpan imposes a burden," the judge said. "It would be similar to an ordinance that made it illegal to wear a cross or a Star of David."

Following the ruling, Wayne State Public Safety Director Anthony Holt was quoted as saying that campus officers will not arrest Garcha or other Sikh students who carry a kirpan.

Garcha said carrying the knife was necessary under Sikhism. The smaller knife was worn in case the other had to be removed. The American Civil Liberties Union and the religious group United Sikhs protested Garcha's arrest, saying the kirpan was only an article of faith for baptised Sikhs.


SMART BOX

Laying down the law
• Review of law after judge rules in favour of Sikh student held for carrying kirpan
• Sukhpreet Singh Garcha, 23, was charged with violating law which prohibits carrying knives with blades longer than three inches
• Court said as Garcha was carrying the kirpan for
religious reasons, the law
did not apply
• Garcha said carrying kirpan necessary under Sikhism

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 12:20 IST