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Court rap on beacon reports

Calcutta High Court has rejected a police report saying that nobody was found illegally using a beacon in the past one month and summoned transport secretary B.P. Gopalika to explain why a list of dignitaries entitled to beacons hasn’t been advertised yet.

“It is impossible. On our way (to work), we find many people using beacons on their cars. Why can’t the police see it?” Justice Asim Kumar Roy said on Tuesday.

He and Justice Dipak Saha Ray were commenting on two status reports, one of them from the state director-general of police and the other from the commissioner of city police.

While the commissioner’s report mentioned cases against five unnamed offenders, the one filed by the DGP’s office said nobody in the districts had been found violating the beacon law over the past month.

Transport secretary Gopalika has been asked to appear in court at 10.30am on Wednesday to clarify the government’s position on the misuse of beacons. The bench had given the transport secretary 30 days to publish advertisements on the front pages of the leading newspapers in the city, listing the people entitled to beacons.

That was on October 19. On Tuesday, counsel Debasish Roy, appearing for Gopalika, sought more time to carry out the court’s order. “Our government wants to add a few more dignitaries to the list,” he said.

The government’s extended list of beacon VIPs apparently includes the chairpersons of various tribunals.

The senior judge, Justice Roy, said: “You can give each and every citizen the right to use beacons in the future. But this court only wanted to know what the administration was doing on the rampant misuse of beacons. That was why it had directed the government to publish the list of dignitaries entitled to the privilege of a beacon. Why did the government fail to carry out the court’s directive?”

Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee, the amicus curiae appointed by the court to assist it in the case, said the police generally lodged cases under bailable sections of the IPC against anyone found guilty of illegally using beacons.

The senior judge asked the state counsel to give suggestions whether stronger laws could be used to crack down on illegal beacon use. “Why shouldn’t they be prosecuted on the charge of impersonification, which is non-bailable and comes under the purview of cheating?” Justice Roy said.

He said a new law with stronger provisions against offenders wouldn’t be out of place given the extent of beacon violations.

The case owes its origins to an anticipatory bail plea filed by a person named Ravindra Jain, fearing arrest for allegedly misusing a beacon. When the case reached the division bench, Justice Roy said he had already received several complaints on rampant misuse of beacons and appointed Chatterjee the amicus curiae.

Chatterjee’s report said many government officials were using beacons illegally.