After widespread misuse, only 3 categories of vehicles can now use the red, blue or white beacon

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After indiscriminate use of coloured beacons atop the vehicles of various dignitaries, the government has now issued a notification limiting the use of the coloured beacon to only 3 categories of vehicles on emergency & disaster management duties.

A couple of weeks ago, the Union Cabinet gave its nod to prohibit the use of beacons on all categories of vehicles in the country except in the case of emergency & other duties. The government mentioned at that time that the use of beacons was perceived as a VIP symbol by common public.  Now the government has issued a notification amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) to implement this decision.

Provision of Beacons was widely misused

Rule 108 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) empowered the central & state governments to decide the type of dignitaries who would be authorized to use the red or blue light. The Central Government on its part issued a notification authorizing more than 20 dignitaries to use the red beacon. Various state governments also issued similar notifications adding more & more names to this list.

For instance, the government of Andhra Pradesh in 2003 issued a notification allowing 15 dignitaries to use the different beacons. Later, the government added a few more names to this list.

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Even UTs issued notifications specifying dignitaries who could use the beacons atop their vehicles.  The provision was widely misused by various people who set up beacons atop their vehicles even when the law did not allow the same.

The Supreme Court also came down heavily on this culture while hearing a PIL. The court ruled that the governments cannot expand the scope of rule 108 to include more dignitaries in the list other than those holding constitutional posts. The court also directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States to publish a notice in the newspapers with the specific orders of the court.

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Only 3 categories of Vehicles can now use the beacons

The Central Government has now issued a notification to implement the decision of the union cabinet. The following 3 categories of vehicles desginated for emergency & disaster management duties will only be allowed to use the multi coloured red, blue and white light on their top.

  • Duties relating to control of fire
  • Duties by police, defence forces or paramilitary forces for maintenance of law and order
  • Duties relating to management of natural disasters including earthquake, flood, land slide, cyclone, tsunami and manmade disasters including nuclear disaster, chemical disaster and biological disaster.

The multi coloured light will not be used when the vehicle is not on the designated duty. The transport department of the state government has also been directed to issue a public notice to make the general public aware of the type of vehicles allowed to use the coloured beacons. Such vehicles should also have a sticker issued by the transport department.

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