The end of lal-batti (red beacon) culture may be in sight.
The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Centre and states time till second week of July to restrict the use of red beacons on official vehicles, failing which it would step in.
The court, which a day earlier had questioned the need for so many people enjoying the “privilege”, on Thursday advised the governments to amend the motor vehicles act to “drastically” trim the list of people who can use beacons and sirens . It will be forced to pass an order if the advice wasn’t followed, it said.
After the deadline, the court will also decide on fines, expected to be hefty, for misuse of beacons. Confiscation of vehicles would be next.
The beacons, or lal battis as they are commonly known, have come to symbolise power and status -- perhaps the reason why more and more people want them.
Addressing the mindset, a bench headed by justice GS Singhvi said: "Status is enhanced not by travelling in red beacon vehicles but by work done by them (people)."
"Use of beacon on government and private vehicles should be drastically restricted so that right of freedom of movement of people is not affected."
It disapproved of the Uttar Pradesh government's list of VIPs, including the anti-graft watchdog lokayukta, allowed to flash beacons. "Why should a lokayukta be allowed to travel in such a vehicle. It’s just a statutory post," the bench said.