Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite‑Bourgeoys

[2006] 1 S.C.R. 256

The appellant in this case was an Orthodox Sikh who believed that his religion required him to wear a kirpan at all times. His school offered an agreement whereby he could continue to wear the kirpan at school, provided that it was sealed inside his clothing. He and his parents both agreed, but the governing board of the school refused to ratify the agreement, holding that it violated the school’s prohibition on the carrying of weapons. The appellant challenged the decision in court on the basis of his s.2(a) Charter freedom of religion, seeking to have the governing board’s decision declared null and permission to wear the kirpan under certain conditions restored. The Superior Court granted the declaration, but was reversed by the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada granted the appeal, finding that the restriction was an infringement of the appellant’s s.2(a) Charter rights and that it was not saved by s.1 of the Charter. While promoting school safety was a pressing and substantial objective, the interference effectively deprived the appellant of his right to attend the school, as he could not do so without observing his sincerely held religious belief. Therefore the decision was not minimally impairing. The Supreme Court declared the governing board’s decision to be null.

SCC Reasons for Judgment

Faculty of Law Commentary and Research Discussing Multani v Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys

Audrey Macklin, “Charter right or Charter-lite? Administrative discretion and the Charter,” (2014) 67 SCLR (2d) 561.

Ayelet Shachar, “Interpretation Sections (27 and 28) of the Canadian Charter,” (2013) 61 sCLR (2d) 147-190.

Cheryl Milne, “Religious Freedom: At What Age?” (2009) 25 Nat’l Const L J 71.

Cheryl Milne, “Multani and Tranchemontagne: The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on the powers of administrative tribunals in human rights cases,” (May 2006) OBA Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights L.


Date Document
2004/12/20 Appellants – Balvir Singh Multani and Gurbaj Singh Multani
2005/03/01 Intervener – Attorney General of Quebec
2005/03/18 Intervener – Canadian Civil Liberties Association
2005/03/18 Intervener – Canadian Human Rights Commission
2005/o3/21 Intervener – Ontario Human Rights Commission
2005/03/21 Intervener – World Sikh Organization of Canada