Supreme Court judge sensationally bans burqa in his court
A VICTORIAN Supreme Court judge has sensationally banned burqas in his court.
Justice Christopher Beale stopped the niqab-wearing wife of an accused terrorist from entering his courtroom this week, saying all in his court must show their faces.
"I require anybody who comes into the court - and all are welcome - but anybody who comes into the court, for their face to be uncovered," Justice Beale said.
The woman refused to remove her traditional garb, and sat outside.
The Herald Sun understands it is the first known case of a burqa ban in a Victorian court.
Premier Daniel Andrews said this morning that move showed judges and magistrates had sufficient powers to run their courts and changes flagged by the State Opposition were unnecessary.
"The decision made by that particular judge would seem to demonstrate that point,'' he said.
"There is no need to be making further changes ... judges and magistrates have all the powers they need to run their court processes.
"I think this was done in a respectful way and as I understand it the person actually removed the item of clothing and that was seen by the court as important."
However, Islamic leaders slammed the decision as "unreasonable" and a violation of the woman's human rights.
The controversial Islamic veil has long troubled courts, where the dress code does not even allow people to wear sunglasses perched on their heads.
The Supreme Court dress code, set out on its website, advises people to "dress appropriately", adding "no hats or sunglasses".
But a court spokesman said judges were able to decide who entered their courts.
The woman concerned is the wife of an accused terrorist, who cannot be named for legal reasons. She did not want to remove her niqab, but instead agreed to leave the courtroom; however, she is expected to attend further hearings, which may lead to further problems.
Islamic Council of Victoria vice-president Adel Salman said: "This woman's human rights have been violated. I think the judge's decision is unreasonable and concerning.
"Women choose to wear it. It's part of their faithfulness to God. To ask them to remove it is quite intrusive and, in some cases, can be traumatic."
During the man's appearances in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last year his supporters, including women wearing burqas, snubbed court protocols and refused to stand when the magistrate entered the courtroom.
The state Opposition last year proposed the introduction of laws to jail or fine women wearing the burqa or niqab who refused to show their faces in court.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy stood by that policy on Wednesday, saying it would ensure that disrespect shown towards judges was punished.
"If you don't respect the court, you don't respect the law," Mr Guy said.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the Coalition's proposal was unnecessary.