SC tells govt to amend rules on use of red beacon

SC tells govt to amend rules on use of red beacon

Increase fine on violators to ensure free traffic movement

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre and all state governments to amend rules to drastically restrict the use of red beacons and increase fine on violators to ensure that the people’s right to free movement was not hindered.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and Kurian Joseph said it was imperative to change the notification framed under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to restrict the use of red beacons by dignitaries and rule it out completely when they were off-duty.

“We deem it proper to give an opportunity to the central and other state governments and union territories’ administration to amend necessary provisions and notifications under Section 108 of the MV Act for restricting the use of beacons to constitutional heads of political executive, legislature and judiciary only and total prohibition on use of sirens except on police, ambulance, fire-fighters, army and others permitted under Section 119 (3) of the 1989 rules and corresponding rules of the state governments,” the court said.

Questioning the Centre and different state governments for allowing so many people to use red beacons, the court said: “Under what rules vehicles in the Supreme Court and high courts are allowed to have hooters? “The Motor Vehicles Act was enacted in 1988 and the rules were framed by central and various state governments in 1989. Concerned legislative bodies have not thought it proper to bring necessary amendments in conformity with the acceptance of the people of the republic and a small section of people consider themselves as special against ordinary citizens. This appears to be the primary reason that government issued notification authorising use of beacon on their vehicles,” the court said. “It is therefore imperative that the use of beacons on vehicles of dignitaries is drastically restricted so that people’s right is not hindered.”

The court also noted that it would be prudent for the central and state governments to substantially increase the fine on violators.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing for the Centre, submitted that vehicles of judges were being used by their children without covering the red light or nameplates. She said the fine imposed on violators was “very minimal.”

Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, appearing for a number of state governments including the Delhi government, pointed out that under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a fine between Rs 100 and 300 was imposed for violating rules on red beacons. He said 352 vehicles in 2011, 111 in 2012 and 20 in 2013 were fined for using red beacons.

“If the category of persons using it is limited, the problem is solved,” the bench observed, referring to a direction issued by the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday stating that judicial officers would not use red beacons and plates. Advocate Gaurav Bhatia, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, faced some tough questions from the court over a large number of people being granted permission to use red beacons in the state.

As he read out the positions held by dignitaries using the beacon, including the governor, chief minister, former chief minister, speakers of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council and the Lokayukta, the court intervened. “What was the need for allowing the Lokayukta to use it.

It is only a statutory position. Does his status get enhanced by it?” The court also asked the state governments of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to respond to a plea by senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing as amicus curiae in the matter, to remove the security paraphernalia of VIPs coming to Delhi from those places, since gunmen accompanying them with carbines scared the general public.

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