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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Mandatory helmet rule may not apply to Sikh women

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 22, 2014
First Published: 23:46 IST(22/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:00 IST(23/6/2014)

There is a possibility that Sikh women may be exempted from wearing helmets when travelling on two-wheelers.

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The state transport department, following objections from the Sikh community, has prepared two proposals, one of which includes this proposal. The second proposal wants to make helmets mandatory for all women travelling on two-wheelers.

Transport department officials said the proposals have been sent to the lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung.

At present, the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules of 1993 makes wearing of helmets optional for women. While the transport department - keeping in mind fatal accidents involving two-wheeler riders - has been trying to make helmets mandatory for everyone, the Sikh community has objected to the plan. The department, sources said, has now left it on the L-G to take the final call.

“Though the common view is that all women should wear helmets, we have proposed that Sikh women can be exempted from the rule if they produce proper identity cards when stopped by a traffic cop. A list of documents which the traffic police will accept as identity proofs can be worked out separately. We have sent both the proposals to the L-G for his final decision,” a senior transport department official said, requesting anonymity.

The transport department, after getting the L-G’s nod, had issued a draft notification on April 30 this year making helmet mandatory for women. The proposal was moved following the recommendations of Delhi Commission for Women as well as the traffic police, which argued that absence of helmets claimed the lives of several two-wheeler riders during a mishap.

Those supporting the view argued that in the year 2013, 63 women two-wheelers riders in Delhi — either driving or riding pillion —  died in road accidents in comparison to 42 in the year 2012.

The draft notification proposed to delete Rule 115 (2) of the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules 1993, which makes helmets optional for women.

The transport department gave one month to the people of Delhi to send their suggestions or objections.

While some road safety organisations supported the view, the department received objections from several Sikh organisations, which argued that the rule should not be binding on women of the Sikh community. Some groups, said an official, also wrote to the L-G directly urging him to take a decision keeping their religious sentiments in mind.

The organisations, however, said they had no problem if Sikh women were ready to wear helmets willingly.


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