UK’s first turbaned judge knighted by the Queen

Justice Mota Singh becomes Sir; Achhar Paul Dharni awarded MBE

04 January 2010: The UK’s first Sikh and Asian judge Mota Singh has been knighted by the Queen.

Mota Singh is the first Judge from any ethnic minority community in England.

Born and brought up in Kenya, Mota Singh was also the Queen’s Counsel. He had left for England in 1954 to study law. But returned to Kenya and practised for eight years. He became a Member of Parliament and Secretary of the Law Society of Kenya. But went back to England in 1965 and started practising at Bar.

Within 11 years, he became Queen’s Counsel. Subsequently, he was elevated as a part time, then a full time, Judge. Mota Singh was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for "services to the Administration of Justice, Community Relations and to the Voluntary Sector".

His decision to put on a white turban in the court, rather than a wig, was seen as a sign of a multicultural Britain.

Besides Mota Singh, another Indian-origin to honoured in the New Year List is Achhar Paul Dharni. He has been awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to business and to the community in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Dharni, 68, who is also the chairman of Bradford’s Hindu Cultural Society. He came from India in 1963. Dharni was a key figure behind the £ 3 million project to build the Laxmi Narayan Hindu temple on the Leeds Road, which was opened by the Queen in May 2007.

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