The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 19 , 2014
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Bureaucrats obey beacon ban

Bye-bye to yellow beacons.

Most bureaucrats and senior police officers have bid adieu to the glamour quotient atop their vehicles. And nobody is complaining about the transport department’s recent directive on abolishing the use of yellow beacon lights.

Senior officers, including principal secretaries, secretaries, district magistrates, commissioners, and district and additional district judges, are no longer authorised to use yellow beacon atop their vehicles after the transport department issued a notification in this connection on March 4. Two weeks on, hardly any vehicle having yellow beacon atop can be spotted at the old or the new secretariat.

According to the new notification, total 13 dignitaries, including governor, chief minister, cabinet ministers and Assembly Speaker, are authorised to use red beacons “with flasher”. Another 17 dignitaries, including deputy Speaker of the Assembly, state ministers, chief secretary and advocate-general, are authorised to use red beacons “without flasher”.

The notification was issued in pursuance of a judgment given by the Supreme Court on December 10, 2013 on a PIL filed by Uttar Pradesh resident Abhay Singh on unauthorised use of beacon lights.

The apex court had directed the Centre as well as the state governments to issue a fresh list of people eligible for using red beacon on their vehicles within three months.

The transport department issued a public notice last week, asking people to remove the beacon lights if they are not authorised to use according to the latest notification.

Taking the transport department’s directive seriously, most bureaucrats and senior police officers have removed yellow beacons — a facility they enjoyed right from the beginning of their career — from their official vehicles. A few have started using blue beacon when on duty.

Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj and superintendent of police Jayant Kant have replaced the yellow beacons mounted on their official vehicles with blue.

Director-general of police Abhayanand has also removed the yellow beacon atop his official vehicle.

At present, his car does not have any beacon. He is entitled to use blue beacon when on duty.

Principal secretaries and secretaries of most departments have also removed yellow beacons. S. Siddharth, the urban development and housing secretary, has been travelling in a vehicle without any beacon atop for the past few days.

“The secretary of the transport department had written letters to all senior officers using yellow beacons to remove them in pursuance of the latest notification. We are glad that most officials have already removed the beacons on their own. If we still find somebody using yellow beacon, appropriate action would be taken,” said a senior officer of the transport department.

Sources in the department claimed that the amendment in the list of beacon lights had been made strictly in accordance with the parameters followed by the central government.

Most bureaucrats removed the beacons after the state transport department came up with the notification. But Arvind Pandey, the inspector-general of Darbhanga range, shunned it long ago — a day after the Supreme Court issued the order last December.

“I removed the yellow beacon light and started using blue beacon on my vehicle in view of the Supreme Court order. Police have been authorised to use beacon lights not as a status symbol but to allow them to serve the citizens even in challenging situations. The beacons allow them unhindered access to the roads for discharging their duties. Now that the Supreme Court order has suggested that police officers are not entitled to use yellow beacon lights, it should be implemented with utmost sincerity,” said Pandey.

Residents have hailed the latest notification of the transport department that regulates the use of beacons.

“According to the law, use of yellow beacon lights was never authorised. The Government of India authorised the use of only two beacons — red and blue/ white/multi-coloured. But bureaucrats started using yellow beacons as status symbol. And this led to misuse of beacon for personal purposes as well,” said Wing Commander (retired) Narendra Kumar, honorary secretary, Automobile Dealers’ Association of Bihar.