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Beacon denial miffs Clifford

Shillong, March 13: The privilege of using the red beacon atop official vehicles is only extended to the state’s highest bureaucrat, not to those who represent the people.

Garo National Council (GNC) legislator Clifford R. Marak was perturbed today when he was informed that legislators are not mentioned in the list of dignitaries who can use the red beacon atop their official vehicles.

“The warrant of precedence in Meghalaya places the chief secretary much below the legislator. But we are being ignored by the bureaucrats. Shall I have to call the chief secretary or the additional chief secretary as “sir”? Marak asked, while tabling a motion on red beacons being provided to the chairperson of the Meghalaya State Service Commission (MPSC) and the chief secretary.

Marak said the red beacon was necessary at times especially when legislators who hail from the Garo hills have to travel via Assam to reach their homes.

Informing the Assembly that legislators are not being respected by officers not only within the state but also in Meghalaya Houses located in different parts of the country, the seasoned legislator asked, “Why should we bow down to bureaucrats? What is wrong with this government? Is it under the bureaucrats?”

In reply, transport minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh said in a recent notification, only the governor, chief minister, former governors, deputy chief ministers, Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, Speaker, deputy Speaker, cabinet ministers, chairman of the planning board, former chief ministers, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, judges of Meghalaya High Court, ministers of state, deputy ministers, chief secretary, advocate-general and MPSC chairperson were entitled to the use of beacons.

Lyngdoh said the dignitaries who are entitled to use the red beacon might fit such lights on their official vehicles only, and not on their private ones. All other “unauthorised” persons using red light on their vehicles shall be liable to be prosecuted according to the law.

He said the MPSC chairperson is a “constitutional functionary” according to Article 316 of the Constitution while chief secretary is entitled to use the red light, as he is also the cabinet secretary.

“The warrant of precedence is combined of constitutional and non-constitutional functionaries, and therefore, all those who are put in the warrant of precedence cannot be allowed to use the red beacon on their official vehicles. It is also not according to the Supreme Court order, and the state government is only implementing the order,” the transport minister said.

He also said those who are aggrieved by the apex court order should file an affidavit before the court to seek relief as the court had directed that the word “high dignitaries” cannot be expanded by any authority in India.

“I would love to see you travelling with a vehicle having a red beacon, but we have to abide by the law,” Lyngdoh said.

Marak countered by saying that the legislators had taken oath according to the Constitution before entering office. “The chief secretary has not taken oath. Let him take the oath tomorrow,” he added.

Speaker Abu Taher Mondal intervened by asking the transport minister to find out whether there was any way legislators could use the red beacon.