Indian-origin judge to be knighted

Judge Mota Singh, who once shredded the US-led war on terror in an address at the US embassy in London, was named for a knighthood in the British Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Singh, 79, who will be officially known as Sir Mota from now on, was knighted for “services to the administration of justice, community relations and to the voluntary sector”.

Singh hit the headlines in 1967 when he appeared in a British court as a turban-wearing barrister. In 1982, upon becoming Britain’s first Asian judge, he again insisted on wearing his turban rather than the traditional judge’s wig to court. His white turban has become the trademark of his public appearances.

Twenty years later, he angered Asian race relations lawyers by declaring: “Never in all the 35 years that I have been here, can I recall any single occasion when I was treated differently because of my racial or ethnic origins or colour.”

And in 2007, when asked to deliver a lecture as chief guest at a Baisakhi Day celebration at the US embassy in London, he said while he had no objections to America’s pursuit of terrorists to bring them to justice, “an unfortunate and inevitable consequence of this otherwise illegitimate policy has been the escalation rather than the curtailment of terrorist activity”.

Judge Mota Singh also said Sikhs in America had been “appalled” by violent incidents against them in the aftermath of 9/11, because of their “visual resemblance” to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The last Indian-origin man to be knighted was the writer Salman Rushdie in 2007. Other people of Indian origin who were honoured by the Queen for the Order of the British Empire Thursday include: Paramjit Paul Singh Bassi, Chairman of Bond Wolfe, the private investment company; Vijay Vir Kakkar, Emeritus Professor at University of  London, for services to clinical science; Sujinder Singh Sangha, principal of Stockton Riverside College in Durham; Hemant Acharya, Policy Adviser, Office of the Third Sector, Cabinet Office; Ahmad Shahzad for services to “black and minority ethnic people”; Ghulam Rasul Shahzad for services to social housing and to the community in Rochdale; Captain Kandiah Chandran, Chief Executive of Preset Charitable Trust.

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