Women will remain exempted from wearing helmets, HC told

Last Updated 14 January 2013, 14:27 IST

 The law exempting women two- wheeler riders from wearing helmets in the city would remain in force as any change is being objected to by Sikh women, the city government told the Delhi High Court today.

The Transport department of Delhi Government, which is facing contempt proceedings for not making helmets compulsory for women, filed an affidavit before Justice G S Sistani saying, the decision of not amending the law has been taken after keeping in mind the sensitivities of Sikh community.

"... It was found that objection is from Sikh women....

"In the said discussion (in the office of Chief Secretary with Lt Governor) on March 20, 2012) the issue of wearing of helmets by the women was discussed inter alia policy for making use of helmet compulsory for women," the affidavit filed by Rajesh Sakkarwal, Deputy commissioner (Operations) Transport Department, said, adding that the proposal to amend Rule 115 (2) of the Motor Vehicle rules has been opposed.

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on May 16.

It was hearing a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for non-compliance of its earlier order to amend the Motor Vehicle rules for making helmets mandatory for woman pillion riders.

The transport department, however, tendered "unqualified apology... if this court feels in any manner that the answering respondent (department) has committed any contempt...".

Sticking to its stand, the affidavit said, "The minister of transport was of the opinion that we should continue with the exemption to be granted to women and at the same time may keep it optional for women to wear helmets by educating them on safety aspect of using the helmets while riding two wheelers."

"The transport minister in consultation with the concerned officials opined that the exemption under Rule 115 (2) was given to women after due consideration by the government in view of the sensitivity of the matter," the affidavit said.

The contempt plea was filed by Ulhas P R, who claimed to be a social film maker, for start of contempt of court proceedings as the government had failed to amend the rules in two months despite being asked by the court on June 25.

The city government had earlier told the division bench that the motor vehicle rules would be amended to make it compulsory for women to wear helmets.

The court had granted two months' time to the government for making necessary amendments in the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules, 1993.

The Delhi government had also submitted before the court that although a central law like the Motor Vehicle Act has made it mandatory for women to wear helmets while riding pillion, the Delhi government had made it optional in its rules and now it has decided to consider Rule 115 again and make necessary amendments.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act and Rules, Sikhs wearing turbans and women are exempted from wearing helmets while riding motor-cycles and scooters.

"Every year, about 60 to 70 women die due to head injuries sustained in road accidents involving two wheelers, and the government should make wearing helmets compulsory for all pillion riders as well," the PIL had said.

(Published 14 January 2013, 14:27 IST)

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