The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the sports ministry to examine and decide within a year whether guidelines could be framed for private cycling associations to exempt Sikhs from wearing helmet in cycle race.
The petitioner, Jagdeep Singh Puri, 50, had approached the top court after he was allegedly denied participation in a cycle race for not wearing a helmet.
A bench of Justices SA Bobde, SK Kaul and Deepak Gupta also took strong exception to the submission by Mr Puri, a graphic designer, that if the Army can allow a Sikh to wear a turban on the line of duty, how can the organisers of a sporting event object, news agency PTI reported.
"You cannot compare those in Army with those who want to race. In Army, you have a duty to serve the nation. There cannot be any discrimination. You cannot join Army and say I would not go to war. But on other hand you can buy a cycle and choose not to participate in a cycling race," the court said.
"This is not an issue of discrimination or interference with anybody's religious rights. It is not about faith or duty," it said.
In July last year, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine Mr Puri's plea and issued notice to the centre and the organiser of the long-distance cycling event.
Mr Puri had sought guidelines for protection of fundamental rights of people belonging to the Sikh community who participate in such social or sporting events.
Mr Puri was disqualified from the Azad Hind Brevet (long-distance cycling) organised by Audax India Randonneurs, a private organisation, on August 14, 2015.
His plea said cycling without helmet does not endanger health, as the state and legislature have time and again interpreted the restriction of health to include an exception for turbaned Sikhs.
With inputs from PTI