Irish court rules Sikhs can’t wear turban at work

Ireland is once again in the eye of a storm involving an Indian citizen.

Still reeling under a controversy surrounding Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, an Irish court on Thursday has squashed an appeal by a Sikh man to be allowed to wear the turban while on duty for that country’s police force.

High court Judge Kevin Feeney in Ireland dismissed the appeal by Ravinder Singh Oberoi to be allowed to wear the turban while on duty for the Garda Reserve, a volunteer group formed to assist the police force of Ireland. Garda Reserve comprises around 1,000 volunteers.

Oberoi appealed under the country’s Equality Acts after he completed all the three stages of his training but was told that he has to take off his turban as it does to comply with the full Garda uniform. Oberoi also complained of being “treated less favourably” for wearing the turban in the job market.

The ruling was given in favour of the Garda and will not allow Oberoi to wear his turban.

However, Indian Sikhs based in the UK — a large vote bank that will have a major say in the next British general elections in May 2015 – have found more support from British MPs on the controversial issue of wearing the turban and kara in airports or to work and also carrying the Kirpan to public places.

A one-and-a-half-hour debate in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament recently saw Don Foster, the minister for communities and local government in David Cameron’s cabinet saying “UK is working very closely with European colleagues to persuade them to accept the Sikh identity.”