The Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided that no dignitary, minister, central government employee, lawmaker or judge will be allowed to use red beacons atop their official cars from May 1. Even the president, vice president, prime minister, chief justice of India and Lok Sabha Speaker, who were earlier reported to be exempted, will be covered under the new rule.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the new rule, adding that the only exception will be emergency services like ambulances, police vehicles and fire brigades. “There will be no exceptions... Blue lights will be allowed only for emergency vehicles,” said Jaitley, according to NDTV.
The Prime Minister’s Office had held a meeting to discuss the matter last week, according to The Times of India. The Road Transport Ministry had offered three solutions to end the “laal batti” culture, one of which was to do away with red beacons altogether. The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi was the first to ban the use of red beacons. Recently, the Congress government in Punjab and the current dispensation in Uttar Pradesh followed suit.
In December 2013, a bench of justices GS Singhvi and C Nagappan asked states to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules and restrict the use of “laal battis”. The court had asked states to levy a hefty fine on those misusing it, according to The Indian Express.
The Supreme Court had then said that beacon lights and blowing of sirens was a “status symbol”. The bench had identified that only Constitutional functionaries and emergency services such as ambulances, fire brigades, the police and Army need to use beacons.