Sikh man’s drunk driving case tossed out on turban issue

peel_piliceSardul Singh, a Mississauga man has been found not guilty of impaired driving with high blood alcohol because a judge found that police violated his rights by not returning his turban for more than three hours after he was arrested.

Sardul Singh was arrested during a RIDE check in December 2014. As he was being nudged into the police vehicle, his turban fell off and the police officers kept it with them.

Ontario Court Justice Jill Copeland said in her decision that the officers did not comply with the policy of the Peel Police officers regarding the religious nature of the Sikh turbans and of individuals being allowed to wear turbans while in custory. One of the officers involved in the arrest was not even aware of such  a policy, the judge pointed out.

The lack of his turban made Sardul Singh vulnerable, the judge wrote. “There is no dispute that all of the officers involved in the detention of Mr. Singh were aware of the religious significance of his turban,” she said, throwing out the alcohol breath samples and dismissing the case.

She ruled that the Singh’s right to freedom of religion had been infringed.

“Based on the evidence before the court, I find that the officers involved in Mr. Singh’s arrest and detention acted in a careless manner in relation to Mr. Singh’s right to freedom of religion in relation to the turban . . . I find Mr. Singh not guilty. The charge is dismissed.”

Singh’s lawyer, David Locke, said: “This was a case where a message had to be sent that care has to taken with respect to religious rights.” said.

Peel Regional Police’s policy states that when a Sikh wearing a turban is in custody, the turban should only be removed for the purposes of a search and then returned, or if there are safety concerns, Copeland wrote, noting there was no search or safety concerns in Singh’s case.

While Singh never inquired about his turban while detained, Copeland said he should never have been put in the position of having to ask in the first place. – CINEWS

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