The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and the States to consider restricting use of red lights and sirens to top constitutional functionaries, ambulances, fire services, police and military personnel. Other VIPs had no need for such a status symbol, it said.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Kurian Joseph told Additional Solicitor-General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi government, that the restriction would “bring relief to people who hate red lights. They dislike it not because of the individuals, but because policemen use the danda (baton) contemptuously.”
Justice Singhvi said: “Why do so many people need it? Such restrictions will bring all others on a par with the common man. Initially, there will be many sentiments against such a move, but that will be there only for some time. This gesture will go a long way in assuring people that they are not treated differently. Take a decision, for such things you don’t need a court order.”
The Bench was hearing a petition seeking restrictions on use of red lights on cars and sirens by the VIPs particularly in metros, leading to traffic hold-ups and severe inconvenience to the general public.
The Bench felt that security, red light and such facilities should be confined to the President, the Vice-President, the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Rajya Sabha Chairman, the Chief Justices of High Courts, the Chief Ministers and Governors.
Amicus curiae Harish Salve said: “If the Prime Minister travels in the capital, there are massive traffic jams as at least four connecting roads are closed for hours to facilitate the passage of his convoy. I wonder why four roads at a stretch are closed when the Prime Minister travels from his house to Parliament House; is security in Delhi so poor?”
Mr. Salve told the court that several undeserving persons including those with criminal records were enjoying security at taxpayers’ money. “Why should so many people require security?” If businessmen and industrialists wanted security, they could spend money and have private security.
Justice Singhvi said: “Nobody can claim security as a right. Those who have committed crimes will have to face the consequences. We are not concerned with any A, B, C or D. But we are concerned only with the security provided to the common man.”
In response to a direction issued on February 14, the States/Union Territories filed affidavits giving details of security provided to VIPs at the cost of the exchequer.
Arguments will continue on Thursday.