SC asks Centre, states to limit use of red beacons
New Delhi: The indiscriminate use of red beacons and sirens by public servants causing inconvenience to the general public has drawn the ire of the Supreme Court, which has now asked the Centre as well as the state governments to restrict their use.
Reports, Thursday, said that the apex court had asked the Centre and states to consider restricting beacons and sirens to the vehicles of top constitutional officials, ambulances, fire services, police and the military.
“We want the red lights and sirens restricted…. That will bring relief to people who hate red lights. They dislike it not because of the individuals but because policemen use the danda (baton) contemptuously. Why do so many people need it?” the apex court quizzed on Wednesday.
The apex court also outlined the list of VVIPs who are entitled to the use of red beacons and sirens on top of their vehicles, which included the President, Prime Minister, Vice-President, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Rajya Sabha chairperson, Chief Justices of High Courts, Chief Ministers and Governors.
The rest of the citizenry has no need for such “status symbols”, the bench of Justices GS Singhvi and Kurien Joseph said, asking the Centre to file its response.
“Such restrictions will bring all others on a par with the common man. Initially, there will be many sentiments against such a move, but that will be there only for some time.
“This gesture will go a long way in assuring people that they are not treated differently,” Justice Singhvi, who was heading the bench, observed.
“Take a decision. For such things, you don’t need a court order, ” the bench said.
The court made this observation while responding to a PIL by UP resident Abhay Singh contending that indiscriminate use of these “status symbols” caused traffic snarls and severe inconvenience to the general public.
The petition claimed that many of the so-called VIPs had criminal records and were getting security at government expense not only for themselves but also their relatives.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, who was assisting the court as amicus curiae, said that if the Prime Minister travelled in the capital there were huge traffic snarls as at least four connecting roads were closed for hours to facilitate the passage of his convoy.
On February 14, the apex court had directed states and Union territories to place before it within four weeks full details of security provided to VIPs at the cost of the public exchequer.
It had clarified that the order would not cover expenses incurred for the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and others.
On January 17, the court had sought the response of states within three weeks on restricting beacon lights and providing VVIP security to the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, chief ministers and others.