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Sikh refused permission to wear turban in Garda Reserve

A SIKH  has failed in a legal challenge to a refusal to allow him wear a turban after completing his training for the Garda Reserve.

Ravinder Singh Oberoi was told he would have to wear a garda hat as part of his uniform and not be allowed to wear a turban after he completed the first three stages of training for reserve force.

He claimed in a High Court challenge against the Garda Commissioner that as a result he was unable to continue his training and become a member of the reserve.

He made a complaint under the Equality Acts claiming he had been treated less favourably in accessing employment and in his conditions of employment.

The Garda Commissioner argued that the Equality Acts do not apply to members of the Garda Reserve as they are not "employees" within the meaning of the Acts and are volunteers without contracts of employment.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney agreed a member of the reserve is not an employee and he could not ignore the clear meaning of the Garda Siochana Act under which members of the force are employed.

Under law, members of the Garda Reserve were volunteers and did not provide their functions under a contract of employment, he said.

There is also no obligation to provide work to a member of the Garda Reserve, he said.

Many in training for the reserve are already in full-time employment and would not want to be full-time members of the garda, he also said.

While some members of the reserve use their role as a springboard to becoming members of the full-time force, it cannot be said that training to be a member of the reserve is "exclusively" concerned with training to be a member of An Garda Síochána, he said.

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