The Sheila Dikshit government on Friday told the Delhi High Court that helmets cannot be made compulsory for women driving or riding pillion on two-wheelers as the “issue was sensitive”.
The court has sought an explanation from the government on its stand.
“The stakeholders and the transport department arrived at a decision not to make helmets compulsory for women two-wheeler riders. The issue is sensitive and further deliberation is required,” Delhi government counsel Zubeida Begum told Justice Rajiv Shakder.
When Justice Shakder told the government that even the National Commission for Women had concluded that helmets needed to be made compulsory for all as many women died in two-wheeler accidents, the government sought more time to explain its stand. It will reply by January 14, 2013.
“We need an explanation. You said that the issue is being re-looked and certain amendments are being brought about,” the court told the government. The government is in no mood to stir up a controversy, given the Sikh community’s sensitivity on the issue.
The government is faced with contempt proceedings for not amending rules to make helmets compulsory for women two-wheeler riders within the deadline set by the court, which ended on June 25, 2012.
The court on April 25 had recorded the government's statement that the issue was being re-examined by the transport department. The statement said that necessary amendments to Rule 115(2) of the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules will be made after holding discussions with all stake holders. The court had then given the government two months.
“I was forced to move a contempt petition as the Delhi government is keeping mum despite the court direction on April 25 to take a decision within two months after amending the rules,” said Ulhas PR, a social filmmaker who had filed a PIL on the issue.
“I have statistics to prove that at least 20 more women two-wheeler riders died after the last court hearing in July as they were not wearing helmets. The government’s delay in taking a decision on this front is mysterious,” said Ulhas.
Sources said the government stand before the court was a “communication gap” between transport minister Arvinder Singh and his officials.
‘Helmets can stop deaths of bikers’
New Delhi: There has been a 16% year-on-year drop in the number of two-wheeler riders killed in road accidents.
Traffic police, whose officers attributed the drop to the increased prosecution of violators and improved policing on city roads, said the decline in deaths could have been steeper had there been a fair law on the usage of helmets.
Women drivers and pillion riders were exempted from wearing helmets in 1999 following demands of exemption on religious grounds by Sikh leaders. The number of deaths has dropped from 615 in 2011 (till November) to 518, including 35 women, this year (till November).
On November 10, two sisters — a 35-year-old and another 24-year-old — of Nathpura died when their motorcycle lost balance and fell. The duo were subsequently crushed under the wheels of a truck.
“The drop shows that wearing helmets could prevent the deaths of many bikers,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).