Sikh helmet case thrown out


Helmet, what helmet?

The Sikh motorcyclist who challenged Ontario’s helmet law has been told that the safety of his skull trumps his religious needs.

His case against the $110 ticket he got more than two years ago for not wearing a helmet was thrown out yesterday by Judge James Blacklock, who said serious head injuries would result if he exempted religious Sikhs from wearing helmets.

Baljinder Badesha, 39, argued that his religion prevents him from wearing anything on his head but a turban, and so the helmet law discriminated against him. The judge agreed, but said the additional health costs imposed on society and the additional suffering of relatives when a non-helmeted Sikh motorcyclist bangs his turban against a hydro pole were of greater importance.

"Given the nature of Mr. Baljinder Badesha’s beliefs, which foreclose him from wearing anything over his turban, and yet the unquestioned safety and related issues, this is one of those cases in which, unfortunately, no accommodation appears possible," the judge said.

Badesha’s lawyer said the additional health costs would be negligible, as estimates suggest that fewer than three unhelmeted Sikh riders a year would be involved in head injury crashes in Ontario. However, the judge essentially said that three head injuries is three too many. He referred to "devastation" that even one serious accident can cause in a family.

Badesha can still appeal the ruling, but for now, while Sikhs in Manitoba and British Columbia are exempted from wearing helmets while riding, in Ontario, helmets rule.


  1. It’s funny to think back a couple of years when Sikhs wanted to be in the Canadian Forces but didn’t want to shave so thier gas mask would seal properly and if I remember correctly they bitched about the helmets then too. I don’t think you have to have a membership card to prove your religion so all the riders who feel inclined in BC and Manitoba should wear a turbin and see how long it takes to get pulled over. Crap like this has always pissed me off in Canada. Why do the laws need to differ as we travel across Canada. 1 set of rules for all citizens. Put a damn helmet on quit causing trouble

    • I agree why does everyone else abide by the law. I’d like to ride without a helmet on certain occasions also but it’s against the law.The law is for Everyonene NO EXCEPTIONS.
      I’m so tired of hearing about the Religious exception to the rule.It has nothing to do with safety.

  2. If the secular law says: no riding without a helmet.
    And if the Sikh’s belief says: no riding with a helment.
    Ergo: the Sikh doesn’t ride.

  3. I follow up to my prior comment, I have a couple of Sikh background individuals working for me on a construction project currently. They informed me that they are allowed an accomodation (a type of small cloth worn under their hard hat instead of the turban) when it is required. Seems to me when money is on the line (ie. pay cheque), religious ferver takes a back seat.

    Mr. Hemi.

  4. Personally I could care less if he wants to bash his turban wrappep pumpkin off of a telephone pole. The part of this that really pissed me off was the fact that the Human Rights Commission took on his case.
    A few years ago I was denied a respirator fit test that was a condition of my employment. I was denied the fit test because my handle bar moustache did not match the cartoon picture on the wall of the testing facility. The Human Rights Commission would not help me because the problem was not a religious issue. That in itself is descrimatory. So much for equality.

    Mr. Hemi.

  5. Years ago, after all us skool buddies went our seperate ways to UofT, Ryerson, Humber, etc, my Ryerson pal held a basement piss-up, and brought along two friends. We all chipped in for pizza. A friend went and ordered it. He got pork products on it. One Rye-high chap informed us that he was Jewish, and wouldn’t eat it. He sucked it up, and didn’t ask for his share of the money back. He later told me, he was the only member of his family that had not eaten bacon. Pity others can’t be more …. Canadian.

Join the conversation!