Anand Mohan v. Union of India

II (2002) ACC 260; 2002 (1) AWC 819
Download Judgment: English
Country: India
Region: Asia
Year: 2001
Court: High Court - Allahabad
Health Topics: Public safety
Human Rights: Freedom of movement and residence, Right to health, Right to life, Right to work
Tags: Traffic safety

The petitioner challenged as ultra vires the provision requiring motorcyclists to wear protective helmets. The law exempted Sikhs who wear turbans while riding on motorcyclists.

The petitioner claimed that this provision violated Article 19(a) of the Constitution, which, inter alia, confers the right on all citizens to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business and confers the rights of citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India. The petitioner also (a) contended that wearing protective headgear was more dangerous to the motorcyclist as such person has to carry a heavy load on his head while driving or riding the cycle and because such protective headgear could impede his vision; (b) asked that the court direct the State to widen, repair and remove encroachments from the roads, which it contended were the causes of accidents; and (c) requested that a mandamus be issued to restrain the respondents from permitting three-wheeler drivers to drive rashly.

The court determined the provision was beneficial for protecting the life of the person driving or riding the motorcycle and noted that the Government has a constitutional obligation to provide health facilities to all. The court further reasoned that even if the provisions restricts an individual’s right to move freely, such restriction would be reasonable restriction under Article 19 of the Constitution in order to protect the motorcyclist’s life.

The court also (a) confirmed that the Government, required to act in accordance with law and the spirit of public welfare, should examine that there are no encroachments in the road, but as the petitioner did not specifically seek relief with regards to such encroachment, no mandamus could be issued; (b) confirmed the authorities should examine the matter of widening the road after taking its finances into consideration; and (c) reasoned that the authorities already have the right to take away the license of a driver of a three wheeler who violates the conditions of his license.

Ultimately, the court dismissed the writ petition.

“7. The provision is a beneficial legislation for protection the life of a person driving or riding on a motor cycle. Article 21 of the Constitution makes provision for safe-guarding the life of a person. If an accident takes place and the person driving or riding on a motor cycle suffers injuries on his head, he may not be injured if he is wearing a helmet. It is in consonance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The provision is neither arbitrary not unreasonable.”

“8. Even if it is assumed that the right of a person to move freely is restricted by enactment compelling a person to wear protective headgear, it would amount to a reasonable restriction under Clauses (5) and (6) of Article 19 of the Constitution to protect the life of a person when he is involved in an accident while driving or riding on a motor-cycle.”