Delhi to be no longer helmet free for woman.

Being a woman will no longer allow you a helmet-free ride in Delhi , writes The Daily Mail

After more than a decade of debate and dissent over the issue, the state government and the Delhi High Court made it clear that all women riding on two-wheelers will have to adhere to road safety laws – meaning they will have to wear helmets.

A bench of acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw on Wednesday gave the Delhi government two months to make changes to the law governing road safety, after its counsel said the state was planning to amend the rules.

Sikh leaders in Delhi said they will abide by what the Akal Takht says on helmetsIt wasn’t compulsory till now under the law for women riding twowheelers in Delhi to wear helmets.

Despite a central government law making it mandatory for all two-wheeler riders to wear helmets, women in Delhi have been exempt from the rule since 1999.

Zubeda Begum, counsel for the government, told the court that they are now willing to take another look at that exemption.

‘Although the Motor Vehicles Act hasn’t made it optional for women to wear a helmet while riding pillion, the Delhi government had made it optional in its Motor Vehicle Rules of 1993,’ she told the court.

‘Now it has decided to have a relook and make necessary amendments.’ The government’s position represents a turnaround from their stance for most of the last decade when they did not feel it necessary to make helmets compulsory for women on two-wheelers.

Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, applicable all over the country, made it mandatory for all twowheeler riders to wear helmets – with one exemption for Sikh men wearing turbans.

But as recently as February 29, the transport department had told the high court that the Supreme Court upheld the state government’s provision – Rule 115 of Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules – under which it made helmets optional for women in Delhi.

‘The government was asked by the court why they brought this arbitrary decision,’ said Ulhas PR, a social filmmaker who filed the PIL questioning the exemption.

‘With the court’s direction, everyone will have to wear a helmet… and now they’re implementing it.’ Ulhas had argued that the safety laws should apply to all, regardless of gender, religion, caste or creed.

According to an official from the transport department, the decision to exempt women from the requirement came after strong protests in 1999 when the traffic police first started cracking down on riders not wearing helmets.

Implementation of the rule sparked severe protests from the Sikh community, with leaders arguing that Sikh men are not allowed to wear anything over their turbans and women nothing over their chunnis. With the traffic police saying it was difficult to identify Sikh women, the Delhi government provided the exemption.

‘Our religious texts have given elaborate details about the way we should preserve our kesh (hair). Our hair can’t be trimmed, cut or even clipped. If at all a man has to preserve his hair he has to do it in a turban and the women can only use a chunni,’ Bhajan Singh Walia, the officiating President of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, said.

‘Our religion absolutely [prohibits] people from wearing any form of a cap and if that logic is extended to the helmet, which too is a form of a cap – it goes against the tenets of our religion,’ he added.

The Delhi Traffic Police have welcomed the government’s decision to get rid of this exemption, as they believe numerous fatalities could have been avoided if women had worn helmets.

‘We believe that helmets should be made compulsory for all those riding two-wheelers as it adds to the safety,’ JCP Satyendra Garg said, adding that the traffic police will wait for the decision of concerned authorities regarding Sikh women.


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dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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