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SC verdict timely, beacon of hope

The Supreme Court has clearly held out a red light before the flashy VIP culture better known as lal-batti. The apex court on Tuesday ruled that the monstrous red beacon lights without flashers would be permitted only on the vehicles of very highly placed constitutional functionaries and blue beacon lights would be used on emergency services and police vehicles. The apex court bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi voiced the sentiments of many who have been plagued by the menace of lal batti culture, which not just shrill and vacuous but a veritable public nuisance. The top court verdict comes as a relief since it would mean an end, at least in official manner, of the visually and aurally jarring red beacons on every second big car of self-proclaimed VVIPs, whose gas-guzzling vehicles not only cause significant traffic snarls during rush hours, but also create an instant hierarchy on roads, which happen to be public spaces. That the violation of this order would attract exemplary penalty is also a welcome development, since the brash, in-your-face culture of entitlement, of which the lal battis are an ugly symbol, would now be met with a legal counter. Unfortunately, the nouveau riche and the political scions in this country still consider the largeness of their vehicles and the red beacon as the guarantors of heady power, and not the actual contribution that their political and financial status empower them to make.

Not only are the red beacon cars, often followed by the endless entourage of humungous and threatening SUVs, scourge of congested streets, they are the road-hogging and distracting elements causing traffic gridlocks, inconvenience and even accidents. Not only have politicians of every hue and rank use the lal batti alibi to garner undue favours on the road and in other spheres, even bureaucrats of all creeds have resorted to the unwarranted exploitation of the red beacon for self-serving ends. The perks of government job cannot extend beyond a point and the SC is right to put a stop on it.
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