SC to hear plea on abolishing beacon lights

New Delhi, Feb 3: The Supreme Court will hear a plea Feb 14 on doing away with a rule that allows red beacon lights atop vehicles of “high dignitaries”.

The bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh Monday agreed to hear the challenge to the constitutional validity of section 108(1) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, that exempts “high dignitaries” from the prohibition on the use of red beacon lights.

Counsel Harish Salve, who is amicus curiae in the hearing of a plea seeking restriction on the use of beacon lights on vehicles, told the court that he intends to challenge the constitutional validity of the said section of the motor vehicle rules.

Salve said he has checked the relevant rules in the US and Britain.

“Even in Britain, the prime minister does not use beacon lights atop his vehicles. In the US, there is nothing… security is provided very discreetly,” he told the court.

As Justice Lodha asked him “where did we get this culture from”, Salve said India got this from the Indian Civil Service officials during the British Raj.

“In no other country, you have a handful of police officers at the top (the Indian Police Service) and the whole police (force) is recruited by states under them,” he said.

The court gave Salve three days’ time to file his plea seeking a declaration that section 108(1) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, was unconstitutional.

The court directed the listing of the matter for Feb 14.

On the use of red, white or blue light, section 108 of the motor vehicle rules says: “No motor vehicle shall show a red light to the front or light other than red to rear.”

However, in one of the eight exceptions it says this rule shall not apply to “a vehicle carrying high dignitaries as specified by the central government, as the case may be, from time to time”.