CHENNAI: Holding that there is no merit in public interest litigation petitions opposing the implementation of helmet rule in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has upheld the validity of the February 2 Government Order making helmet mandatory for two-wheeler riders. “Safety measures for drivers and pillion-riders may not be a fundamental duty of the State, but public health being concern of the State, it is always open to a welfare State to enact the provisions for safety measures for the drivers and pillion-riders,” a Division Bench comprising Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice K. Suguna reasoned.
Rejecting the contention of a petitioner that the rule infringed the personal liberty, the Bench said, “the Government has not restricted the physical movement or personal liberty of any person. The Bench, dismissing a batch of PILs, further observed: “A motor vehicle, including two-wheeler, cannot be taken on road without valid insurance. Making it clear that they were not inclined to interfere with the impugned order, the Judges said they would allow the State Government to implement the order and the provisions of the law in letter and spirit in respect of all, except those excluded from the provision.
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Helmet rule binding on states, says Madras High Court
DH News Service, Chennai
The Madras High Court on Friday upheld the Tamil Nadu government order making helmets mandatory for two-wheeler riders and said the relevant section of the Central Motor Vehicles Act is binding on all states.
Dismissing a batch of writ petitions challenging the government order of February 22, making helmets compulsory for two-wheeler riders in six metropolises from June 1 and the rest of Tamil Nadu from July 1, a division bench comprising Justice S J Mukhopathyaya and Justice K Suguna rejected the contention of the petitioners that Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act was only clarificatory in nature and held that it was mandatory.
“State governments are bound to give effect to it,” the court ruled.
Rejecting the contention of the petitioners — R Muthukumar, J S Nimmo Vasanth and K Pushparaj — that the rule was violative of Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution, relating to fundamental right to freedom of movement and protection of life and personal liberty, the court said no person could claim any fundamental right to move in any manner in a vehicle regardless of the restrictions imposed by the Motor Vehicles Act.
“For example, a person cannot drive a motor vehicle without a license.”
Public health being the concern of the State, “it is always open to a welfare state to enact provisions for the safety of the drivers and pillion riders”.
Further, in case of accidents, the insurance company “is liable to pay compensation”. Therefore, “it cannot be said the state has no role to play for the safety of the drivers and pillion riders”.
The court further said that since writ petitions challenging the order had already been dismissed by this high court and by the Madurai bench, “we are not inclined to interfere with the government order”.
The state could implement the order in letter and in spirit in respect of all except those excluded from the provisions, the court said.
After the rules came into effect, the government by a fresh order, dated June 4, exempted women and children in pillion and followers of the Meivazhi Salai, a Hindu cult, who wear turbans, from its purview.
The Central law has also exempted Sikhs from the rule.