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Bengal revises beacon VIP list

Calcutta, June 19: The Bengal government today issued a notification revising the list of VIPs who can use red beacons on their vehicles following a Supreme Court verdict last December.

According to the notification issued by the state transport department, only seven categories of VIPs — the governor, chief minister, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Assembly Speaker, cabinet ministers, leader of Opposition and the judges of the high court — are entitled to use the red light with a flasher. Earlier, there were 13 such categories.

The three categories of constitutional authorities who cannot use flashers but can use the red light are the deputy Speaker of the Assembly, ministers of state and the state chief secretary.

The notification stated that officials entrusted with law and order and other emergency services would use blue lights on their vehicles while on duty.

Other secretaries and police officers of the ranks of director-general and inspector-general and corporation mayors have been entitled to use a blue light with a flasher.

The chairman of the state human rights commission and vice-chancellors of universities can use the blue light atop their vehicle but without a flasher.

This is the first time Bengal will be witnessing the use of blue lights by officials.

Earlier, 49 categories of VIPs used red beacons on their vehicles on duty.

While Bharat Ratnas, deputy chief ministers, deputy speakers and deputy ministers of state could use a red beacon with a flasher, the director-general of police, police commissioners, divisional commissioners, district magistrates, municipality chairperson, deputy mayor and chairpersons of the state council of higher education and the Wakf board could use a red light without a flasher.

Last December, the Supreme Court had said the misuse of red lights reflected a “Raj mentality” — and directed states to stop the practice of enlarging the list of dignitaries at will.

The court had identified the President, Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, governors, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court judges and the heads of both Houses and some other officials as VIPs who can use the red lights.

The apex court had asked the Centre and the state governments to decide on the list of such authorities within three months.