Helmet for women: Chandigarh for exempting only turbaned Sikh women riders
Amendment proposed: Acting on HC order, admn plans change in rules for safety of women riders, invites suggestions.punjab Updated: Apr 25, 2018 10:10 IST
Under fire for increasing fatalities of two-wheeler riders, especially women, the Chandigarh administration has proposed to make wearing of helmet mandatory for all women, except “Sikh woman wearing a turban (keski)”.
The move comes in the wake of Punjab and Haryana high court asking the administration to consider measures to contain road fatalities involving two-wheeler women riders. In the past three years, 24 women riding two-wheelers have lost their lives and 85 have sustained injuries on Chandigarh roads.
- The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, makes headgear compulsory for all who are riding a two-wheeler, except turbaned Sikhs.
- However, the Act grants permission to state governments to make relaxation to some other categories.
- Punjab and Haryana exempt turbaned Sikhs and Sikh women while Chandigarh exempts all women besides turbaned Sikhs
The UT has proposed amendment in Rule 193 of the Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1990, and has invited objections and suggestions. At present, UT exempts all women from wearing helmets besides Sikh men wearing turban.
UT transport director Amit Talwar said the amendment has been proposed for the safety of women, including Sikh women who are not wearing turban.
HC took up matter in Dec 2017
It was in December 2017 that the HC initiated suo motu proceedings on rising number of road fatalities involving women.
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, mandates headgear for all who are riding two-wheelers, but permits state governments to make relaxation for some categories. It is under this rule that the UT has exempted all women. However, Punjab and Haryana has excluded only Sikh women, though it has not been clarified how they will be identified.
- Residents can send their suggestions within 30 days.
- It can be mailed to the office superintendent, transport, room 19, ground floor, UT secretariat, Sector 9
- Email can be sent to email@example.com
It was in 1998 that the HC had restricted the exemption only to “Sikhs wearing turban while driving”. However, it met with resistance from Sikh bodies and city witnessed protests. Sikh bodies had argued that their tenets forbid the wearing of any cap. In 2004, the Supreme Court too ruled that the state had powers to relax rules in a particular area. Following this, Chandigarh relaxed the norms and exempted all women.
UT sought legal opinion
Initially, after the HC’s order in December 2017, the UT was mulling to make helmets mandatory for all women and give exemptions as per the Act only. But given the sensitivity of the issue, it later decided to take legal opinion.
Sources said UT’s top law officer Suvir Sehgal advised the administration that according to the Delhi HC’s interpretation of the 1988 Act, only Sikh men are exempted, and to make any other exemptions, the UT will have to make desired changes in the rules. Sehgal had advised against making helmet mandatory for all women.