On Tuesday 20th October, a judicial review around inclusion of a tick-box for Sikhs in the Census of 2021 commenced in the High Court.
The case brought by Bhai Amrik Singh Gill, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) is supported by over 150 Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations arguing that the decision to exclude a tick box option for Sikh ethnic origin in the forthcoming 2021 Census is based on legally unsustainable reasoning and is therefore unlawful.
Permission for a judicial review challenge was first granted in September 2019. But the full claim was dismissed by Mrs Justice Lang in December on the basis that it was premature to bring the challenge before the draft order had been laid before Parliament. No findings were made as to the substantive issues of the claim at that time.
The Census (England and Wales) Order 2020 was presented to Parliament in March 2020 without a Sikh-ethnic tick-box response option. Cross-party support was received for a Sikh-ethnic tick-box during the virtual debate in Parliament in May. But the draft Order was approved on 20 May 2020. The Claimant then made a fresh application for judicial review. The court granted permission for this renewed challenge in July and will now consider the full substantive issues over two days at a remote video conference hearing. The Census has already been delayed in both Scotland and Ireland because of the Covid-19 pandemic.