SC questions red beacon lights, security for all ‘VIPs’

Warning of a complete ban, the Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the indiscriminate use of red beacon lights. It also expressed its disapproval over the deployment of security for all categories of "VIPs".

"What could be the reason for providing red lights to sarpanchs, mukhiyas, and for that matter MPs, MLAs and even judges? Why should the government of India not... scrap the rule that authorises such use. Why don't you make new rules, specifying the categories of people or institutions that should have red, yellow or blue lights? It cannot be for everyone," said a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and H L Gokhale.

The Bench directed the state governments and union territories to file affidavits giving information on all those enjoying police protection and the cost borne by the government for their security. "We will have to stop use of red lights as insignia of authority if we don't get proper replies from them," it said.

"In states like Punjab, Haryana and also Rajasthan, even sarpanchs have PSOs. They have black films on their vehicles and no police officer will dare to touch them," it said.

Stating that the Centre's stand will be the "most important", the court told Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman to address two main issues. First, under which provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and relevant rules are the red beacon lights allowed; second, the categories of people who are provided security. "You will also have to explain the meaning of these sirens with the lights," it added.

Asked if only constitutional authorities like the prime minister, president, governors, chief justices and a few others should be given beacon lights, Nariman replied: "No, I think it should also be based on threat perception. Let there be a handful of defined functionaries and then some based on threat perception."

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