The Madras High Court on Thursday made it clear that it was not the court but the law that requires two-wheeler riders as well those who travel pillion to wear helmets. The police cannot pass the buck to the courts as it was actually the men in uniform who were supposed to implement the law in letter and spirit, it pointed out.
A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad said: “Respondents (Director General of Police and others) are bound to enforce the law and not to give an impression as if it is the court which insists on wearing helmets by riders and pillion riders and that no duty is cast upon them to implement the law.”
The judges went on to state: “Rider or pillion is vulnerable to sustain head injuries in road accidents. Wearing of helmet would reduce the possibility of an accident becoming fatal. A rider or pillion may not be aware of the laws or even ignore the safety measure but that does not mean the government has no role in enforcing the safety measure.”
Taking note of 41,330 lives lost and 62,413 people having suffered head injuries between 2005 and 2014 apart from 42,53,038 cases booked during the period against motorists for not wearing helmets, the judges said such deaths and head injuries could be prevented by taking a simple precaution of wearing a helmet.
Though the State government had taken cognisance of the need to enforce the law on wearing helmets and issued a G.O. on February 22, 2007 directing the police to strictly implement the rule, the order “unfortunately remains only in files,” they added. The judges also insisted on creating greater awareness among the motorists.
“Despite the alarming figures (of deaths and head injuries), the State government is claiming that steps are being taken to bring about awareness,” the Division Bench said and directed the Home Secretary as well as the DGP to enforce the 2007 GO with “full rigour.” It also sought a status report on the action taken by October 23.
The DGP had filed a report in the court stating that cases were booked against 2.72 lakh two-wheeler riders and 2.79 lakh pillion riders between August 23 and September 16 this year for not wearing helmets. It was also reported that 14,622 awareness programmes were conducted in public places and 882 in school and colleges during the period.
Further, 3,92,828 cases were registered against passengers of four wheelers for not wearing seat belts and a fine amount of ₹3,66,37,266 was collected during this year.
As many as 9,08,033 two-wheeler riders and 2,74,988 drivers were provided counselling on the need to wear helmets and seat belts, the report claimed.