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Australia: Queensland Sikh cyclist secures exemption from fine for not wearing helmet

March 29, 2013 | By

Melbourne, Australia (March 29, 2013) According to Brisbane Times: “Queensland police will potentially have to revise their policy after Jasdeep Atwal, 23, successfully fought the $100 fine received for riding a bike without a helmet because his Sikh faith demands that he wear the turban whenever in public”.

S. Jasdeep Singh Atwal

Jasdeep Singh Atwal (24), a practising Sikh, who was fined by the Australian police for not wearing helmet while riding a bike, has been reportedly absolved of the charges by a Queensland court, which also pulled up the traffic authorities for the decision.

“How on earth is a bike (rider) going to get a helmet over his turban?” magistrate Stuart Shearer of the local court was quoted as saying in media reports.

Jasdeep Atwal was imposed a fine of 100 dollars last year and was facing conviction on charges of violating traffic norms, but the court yesterday announced its decision to exempt him of any fine, an ABC report said.

According to the report, Atwal told the court he had only ever taken off his turban to sleep or wash his hair.

“The law indirectly discriminates against Sikhs from riding bicycles because essentially we cannot wear a helmet,” Jasdeep Atwal reportedly told Channel Nine outside court.

“It’s absolved me of all the charges, I’ve got no fines to pay and no demerit points on my licence”.

“This is a bit of a landmark which we will be able to use in our lobbying in the future”, Atwal is quoted as saying by Brisbane Times.

As per information, currently the only exception to the rule under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009 is if cyclists have a medical certificate.

Kurt Fowler, an expert in the fields of criminal and traffic defence law, reportedly said this case will potentially require Queensland police to revise their policy in this area.

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