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Jehovah's Witness to fight sacking verdict

South China Morning Post. Oct 24, 1998.
REUTERS in Singapore

A SINGAPORE member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious sect who lost his landmark case for wrongful dismissal from a teaching job is expected to appeal, a senior official of the sect said yesterday.

"Having come this far, I would expect there would be an appeal," the sect's senior official, who asked not to be identified, said.

Singapore's High Court ruled against Peter Nappalli on Thursday in his civil suit for wrongful dismissal against Singapore's Institute of Technical Education.

Mr Nappalli was sacked in 1994, accused of not saying the words of Singapore's national pledge or the national anthem.

The institute made reciting both mandatory in 1988.

The Jehovah's Witnesses movement, banned in Singapore since 1972 on grounds it was prejudicial to public welfare and order, considers such ceremonial acts are against its faith.

Mr Nappalli had worked for the institute and its predecessor, the Vocational and Industrial Training Board, since 1984. He filed his suit in 1995, and his lawyers argued that Mr Nappalli was sacked because of his refusal to take part in the ceremony and the sacking violated his constitutional rights.

The institute's lawyers said Mr Nappalli, jailed for three years by courts martial for refusing to complete mandatory national service on grounds of his religious beliefs, had failed to fully disclose his beliefs on application forms, intentionally suppressing the information and so invalidating his claim.

Mr Nappalli said relevant documents, including his national service discharge, made his beliefs clear to the education officials who employed him.

The High Court said Mr Nappalli's constitutional rights had not been violated and found that he had suppressed information that could have led to disqualification or dismissal from his job.

Mr Nappalli had been seeking reinstatement and recompense. His lawyers were not available for comment.

Published in the South China Morning Post. Oct 24, 1998

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