Union minister for water resources Uma Bharti has said using red beacons on vehicles, stopping traffic and even delaying a flight is acceptable if a minister is travelling for an official duty.
The firebrand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s comments came on a day newly-appointed Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath issued an order on Monday that no minister will use red beacon atop their official vehicle.
Earlier, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh also decided to ban beacon lights on government vehicles.
“If a minister is going to attend an official meeting he should use the red beacon and traffic too should be stopped. If it is necessary, a flight too can be delayed for 5-7 minutes.”
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal decided that none of his ministers would use red beacons on their official cars immediately after his occupying the chair in 2015.
“This is wrong ... If a car is without beacon light and other cars in the motorcade are running with such lights that may lead to accidents,” Uma Bharti said in reply to journalists’ questions in Bhopal on Monday.
“If a minister is going to attend an official meeting he should use the red beacon and traffic too should be stopped. If it is necessary, a flight too can be delayed for 5-7 minutes,” she added.
Bharti said the rationale behind her argument is that if a minister fails to attend a meeting, a decision regarding a project might be delayed and cost the state exchequer crores of rupees.
However, she added that if a minister is on a personal visit to any place he should not use his privileges and should not use a red beacon and the traffic should not be stopped for him.
In 2014, the Supreme Court said that people hate red lights and pointed out that the problem of people being at the receiving end of VIP security was rooted in the carving out of “exceptions, exemptions and regularisation”.
The apex court described putting up of beacon lights and blowing of sirens as a “status symbol” and added that besides constitutional functionaries, it was the “ambulances, fire services, police and army who are in need for red lights. Rest can be excluded and there is no need for our orders”.