The Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that helmets could not be made compulsory for women driving two-wheelers or riding pillion.
The government also urged the high court to dismiss a PIL that demanded helmets be made compulsory for both the genders.
The transport department's stand, however, is contrary to the views of Delhi Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Satyendra Garg. In June last year, he had posted on the Facebook page of traffic police that helmets should be made compulsory for women as well.
Garg had cited data to back his statement. "Traffic police data shows that 64 women died in road accidents while travelling on two-wheelers in 2010. This year (2011) also, there have been 37 casualties of women while travelling on two-wheelers till June 30. We are of the opinion that if these women were wearing helmets, many of them could have survived," he had posted on Facebook.
Arguing his case, petitioner Ullhas PR, a social filmmaker, said in his PIL that women were equally vulnerable to injuries while riding or driving two-wheelers. "Their lives are not less valuable than that of men."
The transport department told the court that the Supreme Court had earlier upheld the provision - Rule 115 of Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules - under which it made helmets optional for women in Delhi.
Delhi transport department deputy commissioner Ranjeet Singh denied that Rule 115 is "contrary to the mandatory provisions of section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act".
But the transport department will have some explaining to do in the court as while rule 115 makes it optional for women to wear helmets, section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act applicable all over India makes it mandatory for all two-wheeler riders to wear helmets.
Crackdown on bad helmets
Faridabad: Wearing inferior quality helmets will be treated as riding without helmets from Thursday.
The traffic police will crack down on two-wheeler riders wearing helmets without the ISI mark and fine them according to provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.
Officials said they have two motives behind this drive. First is safety of riders and the other is rooting out mushrooming helmet vendors selling inferior quality helmets on pavements and roadsides at cheap rates.
"The drive will be launched from March 1. Those found driving without ISI-mark helmets will be fined," Atma Ram, Station House Officer (SHO) Traffic, said.