Canadian Sikh’s helmet verdict on March 6

February 20th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by admin  

Toronto, Feb 20 (IANS) A Canadian court will give its verdict March 6 whether a turbaned Sikh can be exempted from wearing a helmet for driving motorcycle. Brampton-based Baljinder Singh Badesha, who has challenged the $110 fine imposed on him for riding a motorcycle without a helmet three years ago, appeared in court here for the third time in two weeks to get the helmet rule and fine overturned.

After hearing lawyers for Badesha and the government, the judge reserved his verdict for March 6.

Even if Badesha is exempted from the rule, it will not apply to all turbaned Sikhs.

For this, the provincial government will have to change the traffic laws.

Outside the court, Badesha refused to comment, except say that he was hopeful of winning the case.

“My lawyer has told me not to speak. So I cannot say anything at this stage. We may have a full-fledged press conference later,” Badesha told IANS.

The turbaned Sikh challenged the helmet rule three years ago by riding a motorcycle without a helmet.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is lending him legal aid in his fight for what he calls his religious freedom guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The 39-year-old man, who came to Canada in 1989, test-drove his motorcycle at 110-km speeds on city highways to prove that the turban does not come off in high winds.

On the other hand, government lawyers say that allowing motorcyclists to ride without helmets will lead to injuries and deaths on highways, burdening the Ontario exchequer.

Since turbaned Sikhs constitute just about 0.5 percent of the population of Ontario, Badesha’s lawyers say even if all of them were to ride motorcycles without helmet, it would not have much impact on the province’s $36-billion health budget.

Sikhs are exempted from the helmet rule in British Columbia and Manitoba provinces of Canada.

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