Women riding pillion on two-wheelers in the capital have to compulsarily wear helmets, according to the final notification issued by the Delhi government. It has, however, exempted Sikh women from this rule.
“Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung has considered the religious sentiments of Sikhs, as stated in their objections, and has made the wearing of helmets optional for Sikh women. Accordingly, changes have been made in the final notification,” an official said.
The government has amended Rule 115 of the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993, under which it is now optional for Sikh women, whether riding pillion or driving a two-wheeler, to wear protective headgear.
According to figures released by Delhi Traffic Police, the number of women not wearing helmets who died in accidents was 63 in 2013, against 42 in 2012. Of the 63 who died, only six women were driving the two-wheelers, the rest (57) were pillion-riders.
In 1998, the Delhi government had made wearing helmets mandatory for all pillion-riders, but following objections from the Sikh community, it had to amend the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules, 1993, in June 1999 and make it optional for women.
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After recommendations from the traffic police, Delhi Commission of Women and NGOs working for road safety, the Transport department once again decided to make helmets mandatory for women pillion-riders.
On May 2 this year, the department had invited suggestions from the general public on this issue after receiving the go-ahead from the Lt-Governor. In their suggestions, some Muslim groups also demanded the same relief for burqa-clad women riding pillion in the capital.