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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Section of Madurai Advocates defy helmet rule - protest by holding rally

Chennai roads are different this month !!  - Chennai riders [for that matter, it is so in most places !] would wear helmets on roads where they feel there could be presence of police cop – otherwise would try to drive sans one.  There would be some who would keep the helmet on the petrol tank or hang it on the rearview mirror and wear it in a jiff, if they see a police cop at a distance.  From 1st July 2015 - Two-wheeler riders wearing helmets became compulsory in Tamil Nadu – Police could be seen booking cases on violators.   

This rule came in to being based on the directive of the High Court.  Hon’ble Justice N. Kirubakaran,  in a  judgment of a road accident victim said – ‘it is a common sight, on roads of every city, that people ride two-wheelers without helmets’ – called for strict implementation of helmet rule.   Citing the “case on hand” and its consequences, the judge directed the state government to inform the same to the public through media on or before June 18, the judge said, “If this direction is not complied with, the home secretary and DGP shall appear before this court on June 19”.  The Hon’ble Judge also said that impounded documents should be released only on production of new ISI certified helmet with purchase receipt.

There are so many road accidents and this too otherwise was another one – sadly, the victim was aged about 30 years, a building demolition work contractor.  In May 2011, while riding a 2 wheeler was hit by a van.  For the fatality, a compensation of 17.50 lakhs was claimed.  The Tribunal, after enquiry, awarded a sum of Rs.12,23,100/- as compensation to the claimants.  Not satisfied with the said award, the claimants appealed before the High Court. In the claim petition filed by the appellants, the Insurance Company took many defences including non-wearing of helmet by the deceased at the time of accident and that if he had worn the helmet, he would not have lost his life.

The Insurers lost the case – the appeal was allowed; compensation was enhanced; more importantly the  offendingvan, did not have a valid goods carriage permit, on the date of the accident.  Contending that there was no liability for Insurers, they examined an official of RTO to prove this.  Though  the Insurance Company has no liability, the Insurer were foisted with liability with a directive that they pay the compensation and  recover the same from the owner of the vehicle.
For some who have been driving vehicles for decades, this still is a new experience to wear helmet and ride – because people tend to do, only when law is enforced.  Because people resort to buying last moment and only when they are at the dead-end, helmet prices soared and people were buying the same product at twice or thrice its normal price due to sudden inflated demand. 

As it happens, every violator would start arguing – that so many had been let free – and that one should not be penalised.  There is another view that Police should also regulate speeding.   According to a Director,  Institute of Neuro Surgery, Madras Medical College, nearly 60 cases of head injury come to the Government Hospital on a daily basis.“Out of this 90 per cent is due to road accident and those who did not wear a helmet,” he says.

The doctor added that the accidents mainly happen on high-speed routes. “The police should also check over speeding. Wearing a helmet won’t be of help if they ride at high speeds and get involved in accidents.”

Now read this report that appeared in The Hindu of date – one can see large number of people wearing two-wheelers without helmet …..

They say the interest shown to make use of helmets mandatory was baffling as other aspects have been forgotten.When the judiciary, which was keen on saving the lives of two-wheeler riders, had made wearing helmets mandatory, what prevented the courts from banning liquor in Tamil Nadu which, according to reports and political leaders like Ramadoss and Vaiko, had been claiming the lives of many people every day? This was among the 18 points raised by advocates in Madurai against the use of helmets on Thursday.

Members of the Madurai Bar Association, led by its secretary A.K. Ramasamy, took out a rally on motorcycles without wearing helmets and held a demonstration.The “interest” shown to make use of helmets mandatory from July 1 was baffling as other aspects had been conveniently forgotten, the advocates said.Criticising the judgement on wearing of helmets, they raised slogans against police for imposing hefty fines on unsuspecting road users under the guise of executing the court directive.A signature campaign against the compulsory helmet rule was carried out at Goripalayam junction.

Mr.Ramasamy asked, “What action has the government taken on those contractors who had not laid roads as per contract terms? According to reports, many accidents had turned fatal due to poor roads and bad engineering. Why not the courts look at the pathetic road conditions and pull up the government officials?”Many other advocates, who participated in the demonstration, criticised the judgement, saying what guarantee could the courts give against a two-wheeler rider getting hit by someone and suffering injuries on other parts of his body due to bad roads, or getting hit by drunk drivers.

Should a decision / judgment be criticised asking why something else too has not yet been implemented ? – well, you have the answer !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th July 2015.

Partly reproduced from The Hindu ~ photo credit The Hindu.

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