The Supreme Court Monday reserved its order on a plea seeking stripping “high dignitaries”, other than constitutional authorities, of
beacon lights and sirens that they have on their vehicles as a status symbol and use to their advantage while travelling
The Supreme Court Monday reserved its order on a plea seeking stripping “high dignitaries”, other than constitutional authorities, of beacon lights and sirens that they have on their vehicles as a status symbol and use to their advantage while travelling.
A bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice V Gopala Gowda, while reserving the order, said the “question is you are distinguishing
between an ordinary citizen and these officials (high dignitaries) on the use of the road”.
Making it clear that it will bring down the curtain on the hearing of a matter that is going on for nearly two years, the court said that notifications issued by different state governments allowing the use of beacon lights and sirens would be pruned if they included people not eligible for such facilities.
The court in the course of its hearing made it clear that the use of beacon lights including sirens was limited to constructional authorities that included the president, vice president, prime minister, chief justice of India, the Lok Sabha speaker, governors in states, chief ministers, state assembly speakers, chief justices of high courts, cabinet and other ministers, ambulances and police.
The court directed the listing of the matter Sep 3 when it would take up the matter of the government including state governments providing VIP security cover to the people even though they did not deserve it.
At one stage, when counsel representing the states referred to high dignitaries, the court wanted them to explain what they meant by it. The court also rejected the contention that use of beacon lights and sirens was a “sensitive” issue, saying that it was a small issue.
Pointing to the quandary of the situation, Justice Singhvi said he does not use beacon light on his car and at times has to hear protest by police that it was in violation of its instructions.
In the course of the earlier hearing of the matter, the court has observed that undeserving people being permitted using beacon lights, sirens and getting VIP security cover was rooted in the carving of “exceptions, exemptions and (their) regularization”.
Addressing the court, amicus curiae Harish Salve told the court that conferring ant such special treatment to anyone other than holding the constitutional positions was in breach of rights conferred under Article 14 to 18 of the constitution, particularly Article 18 that prohibits any title other than military and on account of academic distinctions.
Clearing any cloud on the nature of Padma awards, Salve told the court that these awards were not titles but recognition of the contribution made by eminent people in different
spheres of life.
He said that it were not the individuals who were occupying the constitutional offices who were the high dignitaries but the office itself belonged to the category of high dignitaries.
The court is hearing a plea by Abhay Singh whose scope was expanded by the court to include the providing of beacon lights, sirens and security cover to the people who were not entitled to it.