A Mississauga lawyer thinks a Brampton man charged with illegally wearing a turban rather than a helmet while riding his motorcycle thinks the defendant will ride off into the sunset a free man.
"I think (defendant Baljinder Badesha) will win," said Satwinder Gosal, a partner in the city centre law firm RZCD.
"There has to be a basic commitment to observe the common law," said Gosal, who several years ago helped Malton resident Pardeep Nagra, a follower of the Sikh faith, successfully fight a ruling that banned him from boxing because of his beard.
"There is enough historical religious precedence to say his belief is genuine," said the Mississauga lawyer.
Helmet laws are designed to protect those who ride motorcycles and save millions of dollars in public health care spending, a crown attorney told the hearing of the controversial case yesterday in Brampton.
Although Gosal acknowledges the issue of safety, the only person at risk of being harmed is Badesha, he points out.
Case law supports Badesha's case, he said. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1990 that Baltej Singh Dhillon, an RCMP officer, could wear a turban on the job.
More recent cases have led to exemptions for Sikhs who ride motorcycles in B.C., Manitoba, England and India. To rule against Badesha would be like asking those jurisdictions, "why did you codify the law?" the graduate of Queen's University suggested.
Badesha, 39, has said he understands the risks of riding without a helmet and is willing to accept them for his religious beliefs.
Justice James Blacklock reserved making a decision until March 6. [Link]
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