In breach of human rights
R (on the application of B) v Governors of Denbigh High School, Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal (CA) declared that a Muslim pupil’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 were infringed when she was unlawfully excluded from school for failing to comply with the school’s uniform policy.
The claimant, a Muslim girl of Bangladeshi origin, was a pupil at a mixed community school. She wished to wear a jilbab to school, rather than a shalwar kameeze as dictated by the school’s uniform policy. She contended that the shalwar kameeze did not comply with the strict requirements of her religion, but the school refused to allow her to wear the jilbab. The claimant applied unsuccessfully for judicial review of the school’s decision. She appealed.
The CA allowed her appeal, finding that she had been unlawfully excluded from school and denied her right to manifest her religion and access to suitable and appropriate education under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950.
The CA commented that the school had failed to appreciate that, by its uniform policy, it was infringing the pupil’s right to manifest her religion in public. And as a matter of convention law, the onus lay on the school to consider whether a limitation of the pupil’s right was justified in the light of the particular circumstances.