A Canadian court has refused to allow a Sikh religious leader to enter the courtroom with a kirpan, a symbol of Sikh religion, saying it “could be used as a weapon.”
Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin refused to allow Sukdev Singh Kooner into the courtroom with the ceremonial dagger, worn in devotion to the faith, saying: “Although Kooner's Charter Right to Freedom of Religion may be breached, he will not be allowed to bring his kirpan into the courthouse.”
Mr. Justice Rogin said: “This is especially so because of the excitement and passion this dispute has engendered in the gurdwara and the fact that the kirpan, although ceremonial, could be used as a weapon.”
Windsor police assigned extra security to the courtroom on Thursday as nearly 100 members of the local Sikh community crowded in to quietly witness the proceedings. None wore their kirpans into the court.
Mr. Justice Rogin adjourned the case so Kooner can testify outside the court as permitted under the law — like at his lawyer's offices.
Kooner, an allergist and respected leader at a gurdwara, was scheduled to testify in a lawsuit launched by a rival faction at the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor.
Kooner remained outside the courthouse after the judge ruled he couldn't wear his kirpan.
Canada's Supreme Court has ruled students may carry kirpans in public schools provided the dagger is sewn into a sheath. Kirpans are also allowed in the House of Commons, in the Supreme Court building. While banned on airplanes, they are allowed on trains in Canada.