Red beacon misuse draws SC ire

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its indignation over the misuse of red beacon lights atop vehicles used by public servants in the name of security, much to the inconvenience of people.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Gyan Sudha Misra said: “Security is being provided to people, some of whom are facing serious charges. In the states, different functionaries are allowed to use red light. A ‘sarpanch’ (village head) is also using red light in Punjab,” the bench observed.

The court also noted how a security blanket was put in place when a public functionary happened to pass through a public road.

Sharing the concerns expressed by senior advocate Harish Salve, the court said it could understand the necessity of using a vehicle fitted with a beacon light in case somebody was hurt and was to be rushed to hospital.

The court was hearing a petition challenging Z-plus security of a Congress MLA from Uttar Pradesh. The court had earlier converted the special leave petition into a PIL to regulate the use of red beacon light atop a vehicle meant for the VIPs.

Salve, appearing for petitioner Abhay Singh, referred to the instance of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister whose cavalcade was followed by “gun-waving” police personnel as if to frighten other road users.

“I can understand if it (red beacon light) is given to police officers but to give it to public servants is gross violation of the Constitution,” he said.

“This ‘lal batti’ (red beacon light) system must go. You want to create an aura of authority and power. How do you justify public servants being given such a facility,” Salve asked.
The court, meanwhile, asked different states to submit their circulars/orders on the use of red beacon lights on vehicles by public servants within four weeks.

The petition filed by Singh challenged the facility being provided to UP’s Pratapgarh MLA Pramod Tewari since 1985.

Singh contended that Tewari’s security posse, consisting of more than 50 personnel with a fleet of vehicles having beacon light, caused a lot of inconvenience to people.

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