Making helmet mandatory for women sensitive issue, court told

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 15:10 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) The Delhi government's transport department Friday told the Delhi High Court that making helmets mandatory for women pillion riders on two-wheelers is a "sensitive" issue.

"There is no need to amend the motor vehicle rules making helmet mandatory for woman as the issue is sensitive," said advocate Zubeda Begum, appearing for the Delhi government.

Placing the file in which the transport department has re-examined the issue of introducing appropriate amendments earlier this month, she sought more time from the court and said a formal affidavit would be filed in this regard.

After reading the file, Justice Rajiv Shakdher granted the government time till Jan 13.

"Despite a proactive view of the Delhi Commission for Woman (DCW) for amendment in the rules, the government is not ready to accept it," he said.

The court added: "The government's stand is contrary to the earlier stand taken before the court to re-examine the issue."

The court was hearing a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for non-compliance of its earlier order to amend the motor vehicle rules for making helmets mandatory for woman pillion riders.

The contempt plea was filed by Ulhas P.R., who claimed to be a social film maker, for contempt of court proceedings as the government had failed to amend the rules in two months - by June 25 - as per the order of a division bench.

The city government had earlier told the division bench that the motor vehicle rules would be amended to make it compulsory for women to wear helmets.

The court had granted two months' time to the government for making necessary amendments in the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules, 1993.

Disposing of the PIL April 25, the court said: "We dispose of the writ petition with the direction to the government to undertake the necessary exercise and make suitable amendments, as it deems fit, within a period of two months from today."

The Delhi government had also submitted before the court that although a central law like the Motor Vehicle Act has made it mandatory for women to wear helmets while riding pillion, the Delhi government had made it optional in its rules and now it has decided to consider Rule 115 again and make necessary amendments.

The PIL filed by Ulhas before the division bench had challenged a provision in the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules which exempts women from wearing helmets when riding pillion.

Challenging the exemption to women, he said there should be a uniform law for all people, irrespective of their caste, creed, gender and religion.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act and rules, Sikhs wearing turbans and women are exempted from wearing helmets while riding motor-cycles and scooters.

It was submitted that at the intervention of this very court, the city government had framed rules making headgear mandatory for two-wheeler drivers and pillion riders but Sikh men have been exempted.

"Every year, about 60 to 70 women die due to head injuries sustained in road accidents involving two wheelers, and the government should make wearing helmets compulsory for all pillion riders as well," the petition had said.

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