1940: First Sikh barrister in Federated Malay States

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History | Malaya | 17 Oct 2017 Asia Samachar |

Jawahar Singh Dhillon became the first Sikh barrister in the Federated Malay States when he was admitted as advocate and solicitor of the F.M.S. Supreme Court by the F.M.S. Chief Justice Mr Justice Kenneth E Poyser on 26 January 1940.

He was a former member of the Punjab Legislative Council and had practiced as an advocate in Lahore for sixteen years. His father was a Judge in Lahore and member of the Gurdwara Judiciary Board Punjab, according to the book Sikhs In Malaysia, Volume Two (Highlights of a Century, 1873-1973) by Malkiat Singh Lopo and Mukhtiar Kaur Rattian Sandhu (August 1976).

The news carried by the Straits Times the next day in an article entitled ‘Sikh Lawyer Admitted to Practice In F.M.S.’ (The Straits Times, 27 January 1940, Page 11) and also by the Sunday Tribune (Singapore) the next day.

The ST reported: “Jawahar Singh Dhillon, barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple, was admitted as advocate and solicitor of the F.M.S. Supreme Court by the Chief Justice, F.M.S., Mr Justice Poyser this morning. Mr A.K. Sen made the application and Mr F.G. Charlesworth appeared on behalf of the F.M.S. Bar Committee.”

One Jawar Singh Dillons was listed as a vice president of the Kinta Indian Association for 1941, along with J.A. Thivy and Sucha Singh. The association was led by S.M. Sharma (The Straits Times, 21 April 1940, Page 11). It could not be confirmed if its the same person as lawyer.

FMS was a federation of four protected states in the Malay Peninsula — Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang—established by the British government in 1895.

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