The Himachal Pradesh government has set the process for formulating new rules for the use of red beacons flashers and sirens, which is likely to come up in three months.
Following the Supreme Court's December 10 judgment, asking both the central and state governments to limit the use of flashers and red beacons, the state government got the ball rolling to frame new rules in accordance with the apex courts directions.
“We have analysed the Supreme Court's judgment, and we are working accordingly,” additional chief secretary P Mitra told Hindustan Times. Mitra, who is also officiating chief secretary, said the new rules would be framed by March 10 as per the apex court's orders.
The government has directed the transport department to work on the new rule.
Use of red beacons and triangular plates bearing national emblem on official vehicles had lately mired into controversy, as there were complaints that a chairman of cabinet rank was using flashers and triangular plates on his vehicles.
Notwithstanding the department of general administration's repeated circulars to ministers, chief parliamentary secretaries and chairmen of various boards and corporations, the red beacons have been grossly misused even by those who were not even entitled to it.
Even chairmen of district-level Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee have been using red beacons on their official vehicles.
In addition, red beacons can also be seen on private vehicles used by kin of some top political leaders of the state.
SC's directions to states, UTs
The term high dignitaries used in provision (III) of rule 108(1) of the 1989 rules within its folds for holders of offices specified in the Constitution.
Vehicles carrying high dignitaries specified by the Central government and their counterparts at the state level may be fitted with red lights. Further, the red lights with or without flasher can only be used while the specified dignitary is on duty.
The states and union territories cannot enlarge the scope of high dignitaries beyond prescribed in notifications of January 2002 and July 2005 of the union government. Therefore, they shall amend notifications to bring them in tune with the 1989 rules and notifications of January 2002 and July 2005 within three months.
The agencies that require uninterrupted access to the roads for performance of their duty, besides emergency services, including ambulance services, fire services, emergency maintenance and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or for law and order duties, shall not be entitled to have red lights. They would be entitled to have lights of other colours, including blue, white or multi-coloured.
The SC asked the police officers and other authorities entrusted with the task of enforcing the provisions of the 1988 Act to discharge their duties without any fear or favour and should impose appropriate penalty on the violators.