The Union Cabinet has put a ban on the use of red beacons atop cars of VIPs. Only three categories were exempted from the ban. They are the President, Vice-President and Chief Justice of India. The exemption also applies to the emergency service vehicles. Accordingly, fire brigade, ambulance services, police vehicles and other emergency services will be allowed to use the blue beacon. The decision will come into force from May 1, 2017. In effect, the ban is applicable to the prime minister, union ministers, chief ministers, state cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court. The decision was taken to end VIP culture.
As per the existing practice, a red light beacon can be used atop of vehicles of high dignitaries specified by the Central and State government. As per the notification issued by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in 2005, the following dignitaries were eligible to use red light with a flasher. They are the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Former President, Deputy Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Cabinet Ministers of the Union, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Former Prime Ministers, Leaders of Oppositions in the Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha, Judges of the Supreme Court. As per the present decision, neither the state nor the central government can nominate any members to use the red beacon.
The Supreme Court in 2013 directed States to amend the Motor Vehicle Rules to restrict the use of the red beacon. It had stated that only constitutional authorities should be allowed to use the red beacon. The decision of the cabinet assumes significance in the aftermath of the attack on the Parliament in 2001. During the attack, the terrorists entered the Parliament complex through a vehicle fitted with a red beacon. With this decision, it would be easier for the traffic authorities to nab violators illegally using red beacons and prevent the repeat of 2001 incidents.
Recently, the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab decided not to use the red beacon on their official cars.