The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Light turns red for red light

The high court stripped the state’s legislature and executive off its pomp on Friday by ordering the removal of all beacon lights from atop cars used by political leaders and government officials.

“Only police pilot cars, ambulances and the fire brigade have the right to fit beacon lights atop their vehicles. No one else has the right to do so,” observed a division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice K.K. Prasad, passing an interim order on a petition against the indiscriminate use of beacon lights.

Explaining the order, the judges stated that they were merely demanding the implementation of a rule that already existed but was routinely flouted.

“Section 226 of West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, 1987, clearly states that even if a person is entitled to use a red light on his car, he should not fit the light on top of the vehicle,” observed the division bench. “Such a light can be fitted on the front bumper of the vehicles.”

The division bench took Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s police force to task for not doing enough to stop the misuse of beacon lights.

The judges also asked the government to file an affidavit stating the action it had taken with regard to the petitioner’s allegation that police were allowing government officials and others to use beacon lights on their vehicles.

Khandekar Hossein, a city-based trader, had initiated the petition before the court highlighting how even criminals were using beacon lights on their cars to make a quick getaway.

According to the petition, some government officials like commissioner of city police, superintendents of district police, block development officers and councillors of municipalities were using beacon-light cars.

“These persons are not entitled to get the privilege as per the Motor Vehicles Act. Police are taking no action against the offenders,” alleged Idris Ali, Hossein’s lawyer.

The division bench asked Ali to a file a fresh petition containing the list of the persons allegedly flouting the red-light rule. “After getting the list, police will conduct a probe and if the allegations are true, action will be taken against offenders,” said the division bench, directing the state government to act accordingly.

The matter will come up for hearing again after three weeks.

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