A Supreme Court bench led by Justice G S Singhvi ruled that vehicles fitted with red beacons will be allowed only for constitutional authorities and limited classes of high functionary, thus restricting the unrestrained use of red beacons as a symbol of VIP culture.
The apex court bench while delivering its judgment asked the government to make appropriate amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act to make the fine amounts a deterrent. It further said that definite lists of officers under the category "high functionary" will have to be provided by the appropriate governments, stating who can have red beacons to enable their functioning and "any and every officer cannot be given a red beacon".
The Supreme Court has asked all authorities to enforce these directions within a month. Besides banning the use of red beacon light with flashers on all vehicles except those used by high dignitaries holding constitutional post, the apex court has also banned pressure horns, multiple sound emitting horns and musical horns in vehicles. It said only during emergency situations, will blue lights be used which can be fitted on ambulances, police and army vehicles, and fire extinguisher vehicles among others.
On an earlier occasion the Supreme Court while hearing a special leave petition (SLP) which questioned the continuation of Z- category security to an MLA from Uttar Pradesh without review of threat perception, had decided to expand the scope of the matter in public interest and put under its scanner the criteria for allowing beacon lights. Directions were given by the court to all states, to file affidavits giving details on the proportion of policemen involved in providing security to VIPs, the criteria for providing security and the amount of money spent on providing security to VIPs, among others. It said confidence among people will be instilled if red lights from the vehicles of 'so called' VIPs are removed.
In today's order Supreme Court said there has been abysmal failure on the part of the concerned authorities and agencies of various State Governments and the Administration of the Union Territories to check misuse of the vehicles with red lights on their top. So much so that a large number of persons are using red lights on their vehicles for committing crimes in different parts of the country and they do so with impunity because the police officials are mostly scared of checking vehicles with red lights, what to say of imposing fine or penalty.
The Apex Court issued the following directions in the matter