Even as the Haryana government has restructured the list of ‘VIPs’ entitled to use beacons on their official and private vehicles, the regulation is likely to be of little use as these status symbols are sold in markets without any restriction.
In December last year, the Supreme Court had directed all states to drastically restrict the number of VIPs using the red beacon and give the facility only to heads of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary and those holding constitutional posts.
Hearing a petition challenging the Z-plus security cover to a Congress MLA from Uttar Pradesh, whose convoy of vehicles had red beacons, the apex court had converted a special leave petition into a public interest litigation (PIL) to regulate the use of beacons atop vehicles meant for VIPs.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and C Nagappan had directed the states to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules to restrict the use of the red beacon and impose an exemplary fine on those who misuse it.
However, enquiries revealed that beacons meant for restricted use were sold openly at the car accessory shops in Haryana and there was no official control on it.
“Police or the state transport department has no record of buyers of these lights meant for restricted users. It is not an easy task to expect from the lower rung officials to stop beacon-fitted vehicles and check the credentials of the occupants,” said an official.
An owner of a car accessory shop in Karnal said red and blue beacons of various makes and sizes were available in market ranging between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,500.
However, shop owners say that the bulk supply of the newly-introduced amber-colour beacon is awaited.
In its order passed on April 23, all parliamentarians, legislators, district and sessions judges and all IAS and IPS, including the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police, are now authorisied to use amber light with a flasher.
“For years government officials, MPs, MLAs and several others have been our customers. We have never asked for any official authorisation permit from them as that was not required,” said an attendant at one such shop in Panipat.
Sources in the police department admit that the misuse of beacons was a challenge to curb. A senior official said that there should be rules to ban the sale and purchase of beacon lights and their procurement should be limited to government departments.
“The transport department could allot serial numbers to each official authorised to use a beacon. This could curb its misuse,” said a police official.
Last year, two political leaders from Rohtak, were arrested near Gohana, Sonepat, in connection with the illegal use of red beacon on their vehicle.
The police found drugs, weapons and cash from the vehicle and the police authorities admit that it was not an exception as the unscrupulous elements carry illegitimate activities under the garb of beacons fitted vehicles.