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Sikh bodies to protest changes

The Delhi High Court order to make necessary amendments in the Delhi Motor vehicle Act to make helmets mandatory for women riders and pillion may trigger a controversy.

delhi Updated: Apr 25, 2012 23:48 IST
Atul Mathur

The Delhi High Court order to make necessary amendments in the Delhi Motor vehicle Act to make helmets mandatory for women riders and pillion may trigger a controversy.

Sikh organisations in Delhi said they will oppose the government move if wearing helmet was made mandatory for women.

"Like Sikh men, Sikh women also wear a turban. The government's order will be a direct interference into religious rights of Sikh women. Wearing any kind of head gear is prohibited in our religion. Our religious sentiments should be kept in mind by the court while passing any order and by the government while making any law," said Manjeet Singh, state president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

But he added that the community would not interfere if an individual Sikh woman decides to wear helmet for her own safety. "If a woman thinks she will feel safer with a helmet then it is her choice. But it should not be made mandatory under the law," Singh added.

The proposal to make helmets mandatory for women had turned into a major controversy in the late 1990s.

The Central Motor Vehicles Act had made it compulsory for anyone riding a two-wheeler to wear a protection on head, exception only made to Sikh men wearing turbans.

The controversy forced Delhi government to take exception and let women drive or pillion ride a two-wheeler without helmets.

Senior transport department officials said making helmet mandatory for women is a "milestone" decision. "We will now form a committee, which will also include representatives from women organisations, road safety experts and religious groups, to reach a view. Necessary amendments will be made in the act," said Anil Chhikara, a senior transport department officer.