The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a plea made by the Delhi government for use of red beacons atop vehicles engaged in emergency services like police, ambulance and fire for its potency to generate maximum penetration in low visibility conditions.
A bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal modified a 2013 order by the apex court and granted permission to use red beacons in such vehicles by authorities.
The Delhi government relied upon the Rayleigh Theory in physics — stating red light has the maximum wavelength, resulting in maximum penetration even through low-visibility conditions.
It further said many countries like the USA, Australia and Canada used red beacon/light for emergency vehicles and it should be allowed here too.
The petition urged the court to modify the order of December 12, 2013 and permit persons engaged in emergency duty such as ambulance, fire services, emergency maintenance, police and armed forces to have red light/beacon on the vehicles, also besides other colour depending on their operational requirement.
The Delhi government’s plea that red is the “best” colour for vehicles was not opposed by senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing as an amicus curiae in the PIL on the issue.
The court has now posted the PIL for final hearing in April and asked the states to file their responses within two weeks.
Abuse of power
Touted as a status symbol and abused by those in power, the use of red beacon/light on top of a vehicle was restricted by the Supreme Court to those holding Constitutional posts only in the order.
The court lamented the misuse of red beacon/light saying it was reflective of ‘Raj mentality’ and was anti-thesis to a republic.
“The red lights symbolises power and a stark differentiation between those who are allowed to use it and the ones who are not. A large number of those using vehicles with red lights have no respect for the laws of the country and they treat the ordinary citizens with contempt. The use of red lights on the vehicles of public representatives and civil servants has perhaps no parallel in the world democracies,” the bench had said.
Passing a slew of directions, the bench said the red beacon/light could be fitted on the vehicles of ‘high dignitaries’ as specified by the Centre and state governments.
DH News Service