Laal batti culture red-flagged
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved ending the “laal batti” culture in the country from May 1 as it decided to do away with the relevant Motor Vehicle Act provision that enabled its usage by high dignitaries at the Centre and State level.
There will be no exemptions for Constitutional authorities such as the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. Only blue beacons will be allowed for emergency services like ambulance, fire brigade, police, etc.
The vehicles with beacon lights, which are seen as a symbol of VIP culture, “have no place in a democratic country,” the Government said.
“After May 1, no one will be able to put red light atop his or her vehicle. Blue light will only be used for emergency vehicles in the country...Neither the States nor the Centre will have power to give any special permission (for use of beacon lights),” Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.
He said the matter was under discussion for some time and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision and informed the Cabinet, adding amendments will be made soon in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
A rule that empowers the Centre or State Governments to allow use of red beacon lights to dignitaries will be altogether removed from the statute books, the Minister said. “There will be no exception for anyone. The reason is very clear that the rule itself is being removed from the rule book,” he added.
The Prime Minister in a tweet said, “Every Indian is a VIP and the culture of beacon should have gone long ago. These symbols are out of touch with the spirit of new India,” Modi said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari was the first Union Minister who took the red beacon off his official vehicle immediately after the Cabinet meeting. Gadkari said, “This Government is a Government of masses and has decided to abolish VIP culture of beacon lights and sirens”. The decision, he said, was taken to strengthen “healthy democratic values” in the country.
“The Government is of the considered opinion that beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP culture and have no place in a democratic country. They have no relevance whatsoever,” Gadkari added, later talking to media after the Cabinet decision.
Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerning emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service, police etc. In light of the decision, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will make necessary provisions in law.
According to Gadkari, this is the start of a healthy culture and tradition as blaring of sirens and blazing of beacons used to anger the masses. In several States, even MLAs blatantly used beacon lights, he said, adding that some of them had the practice of using detachable beacons.
He added the use of sirens by Ministers is not legal as these can be used only by pilot police vehicles. Asked what will be the punitive measures in case of violations, the minister said action will be taken as per provisions in the law.
He said a detailed notification in this regard will be issued soon and there is no need for any amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act. “We can issue the notification under respective rules and before that, a notice will be issued for public hearing,” he said.
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