02 December 2011

Red Beacon Cars, Status Upgrade Demand Indian MPs

If the entire parliament was yelling their guts out and were at variance on the issue of FDI which made the parliament witness a logjam, the Parliament privileges committee thought it was wise that they work when everyone else dint. So they diligently come up with a report on Wednesday that the status of the MPs has to be upgraded and MP cars should enjoy the red light beacons on their cars.

Red Beacon

The report said, "Due courtesies and regard are not being shown to MPs by Government officers. A large number of complaints received by the Lok Sabha Secretariat from members of the Lok Sabha regarding protocol violations is a testimony of this malice." The report also demanded the Highway Ministry to send a notification under Central Motor Vehicles Act to permit the use of red lights on vehicles of MPs. If the permission is given then they will about 800 MPs who will enjoy the red beacon cars. If the red beacon cars are given would that not be a red menace in the city? It will not only be a menace by a threat as well. Since the red beacon light is to indicate someone who is very important and is recognized by the government, few cops dare to stop and check the vehicles.

Red Beacon cars

This becomes a danger when criminals and maybe even terrorists could use the red light to camouflage. Also some of the people though they are high profile are not allowed to use this amenity but being immune to any scrutiny, politicians, bureaucrats and others flout the rules with impunity. While the traffic police says it's trying to rein in the violators, the fact that only 91 prosecutions for illegally using red beacons happened till March 3 this year - and none was booked in the corresponding period last year - speaks volumes. Traffic cops claim that owners of such vehicles, when prosecuted, use their clout to get away reports Indrani Basu for TOI.

 Under Rule 97 (2) of Delhi Motor Vehicles Rule, 1993, revolving-cum-flasher red light can be used only by motor vehicles on emergency duties such as ambulances, fire tenders and PC Police patrol vehicles, pilot vehicles and transport department vehicles can use a blue revolving-cum-flasher light. Amber-coloured revolving or flasher light can be installed on vehicles plying at national or international airports in the capital.

The rules also make it mandatory to obtain a written permission of the chief secretary of Delhi for using a red light without flasher. And there's that crucial but mostly forgotten rider - when such vehicles are not carrying the person who qualifies for this use, the beacon has to be covered by a black casing.

But as traffic cops helplessly point out, the violators range from MPs and MLAs to deputy secretaries, administrative officers, relatives and even criminals.

The status of the MPs is also in question now. The report states that the ranking of the MPs has to be reviewed from 21 to 17. At 17, the MPs are now been listed behind envoys, chairpersons of state legislatures, administrators of Union Territories, chief executive councilors of Delhi and deputy ministers. However, the changes of the ranking can be done only with the consultation of the members of the Chief Justice of India.

MPs and beacon cars
The committee also said that former speakers be placed at serial number 7 in the warrant of precedence, alongside Cabinet ministers, chief ministers, former PMs and leaders of opposition in the two Houses of Parliament. As of now, former speakers are not on the order of precedence.

The other topic pondering is the disagreement in the status of MPs which has long existed since the time of our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. There was a "great deal of feeling among MPs" even after independence, but Nehru did not see a case for their being higher than "between 14 and 15".

The change of the rank from 17 to 21 with respect to the warrant of precedence would make the MPs on par or above Cabinet Ministers of State Governments, who are currently placed at number 18 in the Warrant of Precedence.