FINDING ITSELF in a fix after receiving the advisory from the Ministry of Home Affairs to follow the Delhi pattern, the Chandigarh Administration has decided to seek legal opinion on Monday.
Chandigarh Transport Secretary A K Singla said legal opinion was required because changes in the previous rule were made on the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “As you know, the matter is in court and it was after the High Court’s observations that it was mandatory for all women except those turbaned to wear helmets. We will be sending the communication for a legal opinion and only after that can anything be decided,” he added.
A meeting with UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore in this regard has also been scheduled next week.
Hardeep Singh, president of the Chandigarh unit of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said that any Sikh woman who uses Kaur with her surname should show her ID to the traffic police if she is stopped for not wearing helmet. “Now the Ministry of Home Affairs has also asked the Chandigarh Administration and the traffic police should be directed strictly not to challan any Sikh woman,” stated Singh, adding that whenever the traffic police ask a helmet-less woman to stop, he should immediately ask for her identity card to find out whether she is a Kaur. “None of our Sikh women will wear helmets now. They can just show off their ID cards to avail of exemption,” Singh told Chandigarh Newsline.
A senior officer of the UT Administration said they were totally “confused” after the MHA advisory asked UT to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmet. “The matter is really sensitive. If we make changes in the notification – what will we reply to the Punjab and Haryana High Court – and if not, we have our ministry’s letter over us.” The officer added that it would be difficult for the traffic police to check the ID card of every woman stopped for not wearing helmet. “How will we check the ID of each and every woman. Moreover, it is for their safety only,” he stated.
The UT Administration is also likely to inform the High Court during the next hearing on November 15 about the confusion created by the MHA advisory. Even in Delhi, where only Sikh women are exempted from wearing helmet while riding two-wheelers, Delhi Police is not challaning any woman for not wearing helmet.
“We encourage women to wear helmet, but we don’t challan any woman who is not wearing helmet,” Delhi Police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma told Chandigarh Newsline.
On Thursday, the UT Administration received a letter from the MHA to follow the Delhi pattern that exempts Sikh women from wearing helmet. On July 6, the UT Administration issued an amended notification making it mandatory for all women to wear helmet except Sikh women wearing turban. Following this, Sikh bodies opposed the decision saying no Sikh woman, even if non-turbaned, will wear helmet.
1,252 women challaned
As many as 1,252 women two-wheeler riders have been challaned for not wearing helmet since September 5, when a challan drive was launched against women two-wheeler riders in Chandigarh after amending the Motor Vehicle Act on the instructions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.