The Supreme Court has done a signal service to the nation by remarking upon the misuse of the red beacon atop official cars as well as of sirens. Red beacons on such cars have a purpose linked to emergency duty or with security. It is understandable when those with authority to handle a situation, such as, for instances, the authorities in a district, are given certain preferential treatment in speeding up to their destinations. Similarly, some may require the notice and assistance of the constabulary for genuine security purposes to assist the movement of their vehicles. Unfortunately, of late, the nexus between necessity and the provision of the red beacon lights has broken down. The result is that all and sundry have been issued the red beacon only because of their VIP status. The red beacon and the siren have become status symbols rather than facilitators of public administration. They have been used to show off a position in society rather than demonstrate a public purpose. Thus, MPs and MLAs are found using red beacons though they face no security threat. It has come to light that 27 categories of public functionaries are officially allowed the use of these red beacons though even this extensive category is often exceeded through the flouting of the law. The result is great inconvenience to the public.
It is undemocratic for a large category of the people to be given preferential treatment on the road. On top of that, this is often accompanied by rude, threatening and inappropriate behavior on the part of policemen, security guards and other personnel, who show no restraint is putting down the public while giving preferential treatment to the red beacons. Indeed, there have been instances, where the vehicles of private parties have been harmed, in certain cases, by the security personnel accompanying red beacon convoys and motorcades. In fact, the Supreme Court has outright linked the use of red beacons with criminality, observing that the rates of crime on the road would come down were the illegal use of these beacons to be restricted. The common man suffers even as an elitist culture is perpetuated as a result of these beacons. The Supreme Court has rightly asked for a rationalisation of the use of these beacons. These should be strictly restricted only to the eligible categories such as constitutional functionaries and to emergency services such as ambulances and the police and a few other necessary functionaries.