A High Court judge has granted permission to the Sikh Federation (UK) for a judicial review hearing to decide whether the decision not to include a Sikh ethnic tick box option for Census 2021 was unlawful

A High Court judge had considered the written submissions by the Sikh Federation (UK) and the counter arguments of the Cabinet Office and has granted permission for a judicial review hearing. 

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said, “This decision by Mrs Justice Thornton sends a clear message to the Cabinet Office that our claim has legal merit.” 

“Obtaining permission to proceed and a hearing date should focus the mind of those at the Cabinet Office on the need to intervene.”

“The Cabinet Office must now review the evidence available surrounding the decision-making process, including the new evidence we uncovered in the 6-month period between the White Paper and launching the legal challenge.”

“The Cabinet Office will also want to look at how the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has retrospectively tried to justify its decision by raising certain matters and arguments in the legal exchanges that were non-existent in the 5-year period leading up to the Census White Paper proposals.”

“We are extremely confident our claim will succeed in court and it would be better all round for the Cabinet Office to concede on the need for a Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census 2021.”  

The organisation had argued that it would be unlawful to exclude a Sikh ethnic group tick box from the 2021 Census, on the basis of the reasoning in the White Paper, which is procedurally flawed.

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Rosa Curling, of Leigh Day solicitors said, “Our clients are delighted the court has confirmed their legal challenge needs to be considered. The allocation of public funds is determined, in part, by census information. Our clients believe their community has been unfairly neglected as a result. Ensuring a Sikh ethnic tick box is included in the next census is crucial to addressing this ongoing discrimination.”

Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs reacting to news of the High Court Order said, “The ONS left the Sikh community no option but to take the Cabinet Office to the High Court with a judicial review claim to ensure it is fairly treated and bring an end to institutional racism by public bodies as a direct result of ONS decisions with respect to the census.”

“MPs are very clear from direct interactions with the former National Statistician who has now retired, his Deputy and senior ONS officials over the last two years, including since the Census White Paper was issued last December that ONS to keep its reputation intact must ensure there is the option of a Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census Order to be presented to Parliament.”

“This is not just about the legal recognition of Sikhs as an ethnic group since the landmark ruling in the House of Lords in 1983 but also the wide-ranging evidence ONS has collected that has now come to light.”