Mr. Shashank Shekhar, Advocate General, with Mr. H.K. Upadhyaya, Government Advocate stated in the Court that in-principle decision has been taken for making Helmets compulsory in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
A division bench of MP high court in Jabalpur was hearing a petition filed by a law student, Himanshu Dixit, in 2019 challenging the relaxation given to women and children up to 12 years from wearing a helmet while riding two-wheelers as is required under the Motor Vehicles Act. Following the petition, the high court had issued notices to the state government in October 2019.
Previously, acting on the PIL filed on October 24, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla sought a reply from the state government within 15 days and posted the matter for further hearing in the week commencing November 11.
- A petitioner had contended that the relaxation given to women and children was violative of the Constitution’s Articles 14, 15(1) and 21 and also defeated the purpose for use of helmet that was made mandatory for two-wheeler riders under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
- Himanshu Dixit, a third year student of The National Law Institute University, Bhopal, states in his petition that the exemption exposes women to danger.
- The Madhya Pradesh government told the high court on Monday that it will soon withdraw the exemption to women and children up to 12 years from wearing helmets on two-wheelers.
- Petitioner stated that only Sikh community members are exempted from wearing helmet as per a provision in Motor Vehicles Act but at the same time there is a mention in the provision that the state government if wishes so can relax the provision for any group or community.
- He added that because of the above reason, MP government has given relaxation to the women in the state and also children up to 12 years of age but road accidents do not differentiate between men and women.
- While Section 129 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, makes wearing of protective headgear mandatory, Rule 213 (2) of the Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1994, exempts women (also children aged 12 or less) from wearing a helmet.
- The petition has pointed out anomalies like the ‘no helmet, no petrol’ order that require women to wear a helmet when they go to refuel their vehicles. The plea also cited data on women two-wheeler riders involved in fatal accidents.
- The petitioner stated that in 25 years since the rules were introduced, many women have been issued challans for not wearing a helmet, which is contrary to the rule.
- Petitioner said that the exemption is was against fundamental right of equality and doesn’t do them (women and children) any good and only jeopardize their safety.
- The statistics given by him were that, Close to 43,600 two-wheeler riders without helmets died in road accidents in 2018, which is 21 percent higher than the previous year (35,975), according to the Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. The share of pillion riders without helmets who were killed stood at about 15,360 in the same period.
- He pointed out that, the figures provided by state governments come as a grim reminder of the critical role played by helmets in saving lives amid reports that Gujarat and Jharkhand have announced exemption for pillion riders over wearing of safety gear despite the law asking them to do so.
- He said that, While 958 two-wheeler drivers without helmets were killed in Gujarat last year, the number of helmet-less pillion riders killed was 560. Similarly in Jharkhand, the number of such drivers and pillion riders killed stood at 790 and 450, respectively, according to a media report. Uttar Pradesh reported the maximum number of helmet-less two-wheeler riders dying in 2018 (6,020). This was followed by Maharashtra (5,232).
- In 2004, the Supreme Court, too, ruled that the state had powers to relax rules in a particular area. Following this, Chandigarh relaxed the norms and exempted all women from wearing helmets. Madhya Pradesh had relaxed such a rule even earlier.
The bench comprising chief justice AK Mittal and justice VK Shukla fixed the next date of hearing on March 2.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
- Case of Himanshu Dixit Vs the State of Madhya Pradesh And Others, WP-21761-2019, matter in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on March 04, 2020.