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Govt banishes VIP red beacons from May 1, Congress upset

NEW DELHI

The central government announced on Wednesday that no dignitary would be allowed to flaunt red beacons atop their vehicles from May 1, and necessary changes in the laws for the purpose were being brought about. The Congress termed the decision “ridiculous” and as a mere “symbolic politics”.

The decision was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who informed the cabinet about it.

“From May 1, no red beacon will be allowed atop any official vehicle. There will be no exceptions,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here after the cabinet meeting.

“It is more precisely the Prime Minister’s decision. He only informed the cabinet about it,” Jaitley told reporters after the cabinet meet.

Vehicles involved in emergency and relief and rescue services, ambulances, and fire services, would, however, be allowed to put blue beacons, the minister said.

Jaitley said the government would bring about the necessary amendment to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, in this regard.

“Rule 108 deals with use of red, white and blue lights on vehicles. Rule 108-1 (III) says the Centre and states can specify dignitaries who can use beacons on their (official) vehicles. It is a central rule and is being abolished from the rule book,” Jaitley said.

He said it means no dignitary at the Centre or in states could henceforth use beacons on their vehicles.

Asked if there would be exceptions like the President or the Prime Minister for the use of red beacon on their cars, Jaitley said there can’t be any exceptions “when the rule itself is not there in the rule book”.

The minister said Rule 108 (2) that empowers the Centre and state governments to use blue beacons with flasher is also being changed.

“Only defined emergency services will be allowed to use blue beacons with flasher,” Jaitley said.

The decision intends to strengthen democratic values in the country, the Finance Minister said, and added that the consequential changes required to be made in other rules would also be made. The red beacon had over the decades become an instrument of political appeasement in the country with state governments “granting” such beacons to functionaries of the ruling party even when they held no constitutional posts.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had the red beacon of his vehicle removed soon after the cabinet meeting.

Indo-Asian News Service