Toronto, Feb. 18 (PTI): A Sikh had raced a motorcycle at 110km an hour on an Ontario speedway to test whether turbans unravel at high speeds, it was disclosed yesterday.
Baljinder Badesha, 39, performed the experiment in association with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to challenge a law that forces motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.
Badeshas counsel Mel Sokosky told judge James Blacklock yesterday that to disprove a Crown theory that turbans unravel at high speeds and cause accidents, Badesha drove on the Cayuga speedway at 110km an hour.
Badesha and the commission maintained that the helmet law discriminated against Sikhs because their religion obliged them to cover their long hair with a turban.
The Sikh from India is fighting a $110 ticket he received in September 2005 for wearing a turban instead of a helmet while riding his motorcycle.
Supported by the commission, the used car dealer argued that his religious beliefs required him to wear a turban outside his home. Forcing him to wear a helmet violated his human rights, he said.
Observant Sikhs are put in the impossible position of choosing between ordinary, everyday activities and observing their faith, said lawyer Scott Hutchison, representing the commission. That is religious discrimination.
Hutchison said the Cayuga turban test became necessary after the Crown declared that an expert it had hired had proved that turbans unravel rapidly in 100kmph winds.
As Hutchison could not find a documented case where a Sikh motorcyclists turban had unravelled, he persuaded the human rights commission to authorise its own test.
After he confronted the Crown with the new test result, the prosecutors conceded that their engineer had grossly miscalculated the force of the wind he had generated, Hutchison said.