Power-greedy political leaders in Himachal Pradesh seem to be finding it difficult to travel in vehicles without red beacons and flashers.
Two months after the state government framed new traffic laws limiting the use of red beacons, those not included in the list of privileged leaders who are allowed to use them have found a new way to flout the rules - by covering the lights atop their vehicles.
A substantial number of government vehicles with covered red lights can still be seen, with leaders, who were earlier entitled to use them, reluctant to take them off. Many of these have been allotted to chairmen and vice-chairmen of various boards and corporations.
“My office has asked me to cover the red beacons with a rexine cap, but no orders have been issued to remove them,” a government driver told HT on the condition of anonymity.
Claiming that many vehicles in the government pool were being used for VIP duties, additional chief secretary P Mitra, who also holds the home portfolio, declined to comment further.
Police said they were keeping a tab to ensure that beacons were not being used in an unauthorised manner. “We have already circulated the government orders to all district police chiefs,” a police spokesman said.
However, reports have been received about many leaders not entitled to use beacons using flashers at night.
In its judgment on December 10 last year, the Supreme Court had asked the central and state governments to limit the use of flashers and red beacons, after which, the Himachal government had set the ball rolling to frame new rules in accordance with the apex court’s directions.
As the Supreme Court had ruled that the states and union territories could not enlarge the scope of the eligible users beyond the prescribed notifications of January 2002 and July 2005 of the Centre, the Himachal Pradesh home department had framed rules that do not entitle even legislators, deputy commissioners and principal secretaries to use red beacons atop their vehicles.
After the Supreme Court orders, more than 10 police officers had voluntarily removed red beacons and flashers from their vehicles.The state government is also waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on a writ petition filed by the Centre, which had sought clarification on the-then constitutional authorities.