By: Eastern Eye Staff
TRIBUTES have been paid to Sir Mota Singh QC, Britain’s first ever ethnic minority judge, who died at the age of 86.
He was found unconscious last Friday (11) and was taken to hospital, but did not recover, one report said.
His wife, Swaran Kaur, was quoted as saying, “He was a wonderful person who achieved so much in his life. He was so hard working.”
Born in 1930 in Nairobi, Kenya, Mota Singh was 16 when his father, Sardar Dalip Singh, passed away, leaving the young boy to look after his mum and five siblings.
Mota Singh completed his education in Kenya and arrived in the UK in 1956, when he studied to become a barrister. He joined the English bar in 1967 and was appointed to the bench in 1982.
He was the first person from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background to become a judge in Britain.
Mota Singh was a recorder, before becoming a full-time circuit judge in 1982. Much of judicial career was spent at the Southwark Crown Court in London before he retired in 2002.
The judge was honoured for his services to the judiciary and his philanthropy with a knighthood in 2010.
Not one to rest on his achievements after he retired, Sir Mota Singh stayed active in the community, speaking about the merits of pluralism in society and lending his name to charitable causes.
He also served as the chairman of the disciplinary committees of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain; and was a judicial member of the Parole Board too.
His faith was integral to him. He told the BBC Asian Network once: “The fact that I’m a Sikh matters more to me than anything else.
“If, for instance, when I was appointed the suggestion had been made that I could not appear unless I wore a wig and discarded my turban, I would have refused.
“I would have said I would not accept the appointment, but the question never arose and no judicial eyebrows were raised at all.”
In 2010, he also spoke in support of Sikh pupils carrying their articles of faith to school, including the ceremonial dagger.
Businesman Dr Rami Ranger of Sunmark described Sir Mota Singh as a “great ambassador for the Sikh and Indian community”.