Beacon lights flashing on “VIP” cars has once against come under judicial scrutiny, with the Supreme Court directing the Centre on Friday to respond to a plea challenging the law that allows “high dignitaries” to move around in such vehicles.
A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha took note of an application, filed by senior advocate Harish Salve, against Rule 108 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules of 1989 and directed all states to reply. Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran accepted the court notice and assured the Centre would place its submissions by March 14, the next date of hearing.
Salve is assisting the court in the matter that raised crucial issues relating to rampant misuse of state police machinery in the name of providing security to “VIPs.”
Rule 108 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules of 1989 allows high dignitaries “specified by the Central government or the state government” to use beacon lights. The list identifying them is issued regularly by the Centre and state governments. But there is no law or rule that defines the term high dignitaries.
On December 10, 2013, a bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi (since retired) had directed the government to provide beacon lights only to those holding constitutional posts.
Salve has assailed the Rule on the ground it creates a class of people who are entitled to red beacon, which is against the concept of “republicanism”.
He cited the practice followed in other countries such as the US and the UK, where even the prime minister or president does not use beacon light atop his vehicle. Security cover is provided very discreetly, he said.