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helmetsWomen riding pillion on a two-wheeler will have to wear helmets now while Sikh women can continue to ride without a helmet.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has given the go-ahead to the transport department’s proposal to make helmets mandatory for women riding a two-wheeler and keeping Sikh women out of its ambit on religious grounds.

Though the law department has observed that the transport department should call for fresh objections from the public as it had changed its stance by giving exemption to Sikh women, a senior transport department official said they will issue the notification in a week’s time.

“The L-G gave his clearance despite the law department’s observation. We have still sent the file to the law department to get it vetted. We are examining the issue and are in touch with law officials,” a senior transport department official said.

According to officials, Sikh women will have to produce an identity card to seek exemption from the helmet rule. A transport department official said a Sikh woman can easily be identified with her name and her father’s or husband’s name, which is there on every identity card.

“We can also issue minority certificates to Sikh women if they are following the Sikh tenets. That certificate can also fulfil the identity purpose,” Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh said.

It was following the objections raised by the DSGMC that the transport department proposed to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmets while riding pillion on a two-wheeler. “But we will have no problem if a Sikh woman decides to wear the helmet for her own safety. It is a matter of choice. Due to religious reasons, it cannot be made mandatory. We are really happy that the L-G considered our viewpoint while taking the decision,” Singh added.

The Delhi government had made wearing helmets mandatory for all pillion riders in 1998. However, following objections from the Sikh community, the government amended the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules 1993 in June 1999 and made it optional for women.

Following recommendations from the Delhi Commission of Women, Delhi traffic police and other organisations working for road safety, the government decided to make helmets mandatory for women.

After clearance from the L-G, the transport department had invited suggestions on the issue on May 2, 2014.

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