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RED LIGHT ON VEHICLES – only dignitaries as specified by central and state as per proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1) of the 1989 Rules and as prescribed in clauses ‘c’ and ‘d’ of Notifications dated 11.1.2002 and 28.7.2005 issued by the Central Government. – ambulance services, fire services, emergency maintenance etc, and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or for law and order duties shall not be entitled to have red lights but lights of other colours, e.g., blue, white, multicoloured etc. – Clause 51 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2012 contains a provision for imposition of enhanced penalty. – misuse of the provisions of the 1989 Act and the 1989 Rules generally and the provisions of Rules 108 and 119 in particular. = Abhay Singh ….PETITIONER versus State of Uttar Pradesh and others …RESPONDENTS = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41060

RED LIGHT ON VEHICLES – only dignitaries as specified by central and state  as

 

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

per proviso (iii) to Rule  108(1)  of  the  1989 Rules and as prescribed in clauses ‘c’ and ‘d’ of Notifications dated 11.1.2002 and 28.7.2005 issued by the Central  Government. – ambulance services, fire services,  emergency maintenance etc, and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or  for

 

law and order duties shall not be entitled  to  have  red  lights  but lights of other colours, e.g., blue, white, multicoloured etc. – Clause 51  of  the  Motor  Vehicles  (Amendment)  Bill,  2012

 

contains a provision for imposition of enhanced penalty.   misuse of the provisions of the 1989 Act and the 1989  Rules  generally  and the provisions of Rules 108 and 119 in  particular.  =

 

 

 

whether   the   Constitution   contemplates

 

categorization of citizens into two groups and whether  the  entitlement  to

 

use signs and symbols of authority, such  as  lights  of  different  colours

 

including red lights, insignia, and convoys/escorts by public  servants  and

 

persons, who hold public offices under the States or the Union of India,  is

 

contrary to constitutional ethos and  the  basic  feature  of  republicanism

 

enshrined in the Constitution. =

 

 

 

On the issue of use of vehicles with red lights, we were  inclined  to

 

agree with Shri Harish Salve, learned Amicus that use of signs  and  symbols

 

of authority such as red lights, etc., is  contrary  to  the  constitutional

 

ethos  and  the  basic  feature  of  republicanism,   but,   on   a   deeper

 

consideration, we have felt persuaded  to  accept  the  submissions  of  the

 

learned Solicitor General and the  Additional  Solicitor  General  that  the

 

term “high dignitaries” used in proviso (iii) to Rule  108(1)  of  the  1989

 

Rules would take  within  its  fold  various  constitutional  functionaries,

 

i.e., holders of the  constitutional  offices.   

 

When  the  framers  of  the

 

Constitution  have  considered  it  appropriate  to  treat  those  occupying

 

constitutional positions as a special category, there is no reason  for  the

 

Court to exclude them from the ambit of the term  “high  dignitaries”.   

 

The

 

use of red lights on the vehicles carrying  the  holders  of  constitutional

 

posts will in no manner compromise with the dignity of  other  citizens  and

 

individuals or embolden them to  think  that  they  are  superior  to  other

 

people, more so, because this distinction would be available  to  them  only

 

while on duty and would be co-terminus  with  their  tenure.   

 

However,  the

 

Governments of most of the States and Administration  of  Union  Territories

 

have framed rules and issued notifications allowing use  of  red  lights  on

 

the  vehicles  carrying  large  number   of   persons   other   than   “high

 

dignitaries”.  

 

They have also used the power  of  issuing  notifications  to

 

enlarge the list of the persons entitled to use red lights with  or  without

 

flashers whether on duty or otherwise.  Most of these notifications are  far

 

beyond the  scope  of  clause  ‘c’  of  Notifications  dated  11.1.2002  and

 

28.7.2005  issued  by  the  Central  Government.  

 

It  also  deserves  to  be

 

mentioned that there has been abysmal failure on the part of  the  concerned

 

authorities  and   agencies   of   various   State   Governments   and   the

 

Administration of the Union Territories to  check  misuse  of  the  vehicles

 

with red lights on their top.  So much so that a  large  number  of  persons

 

are using red lights on their vehicles for committing  crimes  in  different

 

parts of the country and  they  do  so  with  impunity  because  the  police

 

officials are mostly scared of checking vehicles with red  lights,  what  to

 

say of imposing fine or penalty.

 

 

 

In the result, we hold as under:

 

1.    The term “high dignitaries” used in proviso (iii) to  Rule  108(1)  of

 

      the 1989 Rules takes within its fold the  holders  of  various  posts,

 

      positions and offices specified in the Constitution.

 

 

 

2.    The motor  vehicles  carrying  “high  dignitaries”  specified  by  the

 

      Central Government and  their  counterparts  specified  by  the  State

 

      Government may be fitted with red lights but the red  lights  with  or

 

      without flasher can be used only while the specified high dignitary is

 

      on duty and not otherwise.

 

 

 

3.    The State Governments and Administration of Union  Territories  cannot

 

      enlarge the scope of  the  term  “high  dignitaries”  beyond  what  is

 

      prescribed in clauses ‘c’ and ‘d’ of Notifications dated 11.1.2002 and

 

      28.7.2005 issued by the Central  Government.   Therefore,  they  shall

 

      amend the relevant rules and notifications to bring them in tune  with

 

      the 1989 Rules and notifications dated 11.1.2002 and 28.7.2002  issued

 

      by the Central Government. This exercise must be  completed  within  a

 

      period of three months.

 

 

 

4.    The men in uniform; operational  agencies  which  require  un-hindered

 

      access to the roads for performance of their duty;  those  engaged  in

 

      emergency duties such as ambulance services, fire services,  emergency

 

      maintenance etc, and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or  for

 

      law and order duties shall not be entitled  to  have  red  lights  but

 

      lights of other colours, e.g., blue, white, multicoloured etc.

 

 

 

5.    No motor vehicles except those specified in Rule 119(3)  of  the  1989

 

      Rules or similar provisions contained in the rules framed by the State

 

      Governments or the Administration of Union Territories shall be fitted

 

      with multi-toned horns giving a succession of different notes or  with

 

      any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill,  loud

 

      or alarming noise.

 

 

 

6.    The police officers and other authorities entrusted with the  task  of

 

      enforcing the  provisions  of  the  1988  Act  and  the  Rules  framed

 

      thereunder must discharge their duties without any fear or favour  and

 

      should impose appropriate penalty on those who violate the prohibition

 

      contained in Rule 108(1) and Rule 119 and similar rules framed by  the

 

      State Governments and the Administration  of  Union  Territories.  The

 

      owners/users of the vehicles fitted with multi-toned horns other  than

 

      those allowed to use such horns under Rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or

 

      corresponding  rules  framed  by  the  State   Governments   and   the

 

      Administration of the Union Territories shall, within a period of  one

 

      month  from  today,  remove  the  multi-toned  horns.   The   officers

 

      authorised to enforce the provisions of the 1988  Act  and  the  rules

 

      framed thereunder by the Central Government, the State Governments and

 

      the Administration of Union Territories shall also ensure that  multi-

 

      toned horns are removed from all the vehicles except  those  specified

 

      in rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or corresponding rules framed by  the

 

      State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories.

 

 

 

7.    The Chief Secretaries of all the  States  and  the  Administrators  of

 

      Union Territories shall cause a notice  published  in  the  newspapers

 

      having wide circulation in  their  respective  States  and  the  Union

 

      Territories incorporating the directions contained in this order.

 

 

 

      In the note submitted by the learned Solicitor General,  it  has  been

 

mentioned that Clause 51  of  the  Motor  Vehicles  (Amendment)  Bill,  2012

 

contains a provision for imposition of enhanced penalty.  

 

That amendment  is

 

not shown to have been carried out so far.   

 

We  hope  and  trust  that  the

 

Legislature  will  make  appropriate  amendment  and  make   provision   for

 

imposition of adequate  penalty  which  may  operate  as  deterrent  against

 

misuse of the provisions of the 1989 Act and the 1989  Rules  generally  and

 

the provisions of Rules 108 and 119 in  particular.  

 

The  State  Governments

 

and the Administration of the  Union  Territories  shall  either  amend  the

 

existing rules or frame appropriate rules for imposing deterrent penalty  on

 

the violators of the rules containing prohibition against  the  use  of  red

 

lights and multi-toned horns or similar devices.

 

                     

 

REPORTABLE

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION NO.(C) No.25237/2010

 

 

 

Abhay Singh ….PETITIONER

 

versus

 

State of Uttar Pradesh and others …RESPONDENTS

 

with

 

SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION(C) No.23984/2010

 

Abhay Singh ….PETITIONER

 

versus

 

Union of India and another ….RESPONDENTS

 

 

 

 

 

O R D E R

 

 

 

 

 

G.S. SINGHVI, J.

 

One of the several questions of public and constitutional importance
raised by Shri Harish Salve, learned senior counsel, who initially appeared
on behalf of the petitioner in the special leave petitions filed against
order dated 21.8.2009 passed by the Division Bench of the Allahabad High
Court in C.M.W.P. No. 15440 of 1998 quashing the withdrawal of “Z Grade
Security” provided to Respondent No.6-Pramod Tiwari, but later on assumed
the role of an Amicus, is whether the Constitution contemplates
categorization of citizens into two groups and whether the entitlement to
use signs and symbols of authority, such as lights of different colours
including red lights, insignia, and convoys/escorts by public servants and
persons, who hold public offices under the States or the Union of India, is
contrary to constitutional ethos and the basic feature of republicanism
enshrined in the Constitution.
Notice of the special leave petitions was issued on 25.8.2010. After
an adjournment, the Court passed detailed order dated 14.10.2011, which
reads as under:
“Although, the prayer made in this petition filed under Article 136 of
the Constitution is for setting aside the order passed by the Division
Bench of Allahabad High Court directing consideration of the case of
respondent No. 6 for providing ‘Z’ category security to him and his
family members, at the hearing Shri Harish N. Salve, Learned Senior
counsel for the petitioner submitted that dehors the facts of the
case, the Court should examine important issues affecting an important
facet of the Constitutional democracy i.e. whether the country should
have two categories of citizens, of which one enjoys all sorts of
privileges including unwanted security at public expense and is also
allowed to use different kinds of symbols which represented the
authority of the State in pre-independence era and the fundamental
rights to life and liberty of other category are not protected. Shri
Salve suggested that the following questions may be considered by the
Court:
1. Whether the permission to use signs and symbols of authority, such as
beacons, insignia, and convoys/escorts by public servants or any
person who holds any office under the States or the Union of India, or
any other person, is contrary to Article 18 and 38 and the basic
feature of republicanism enshrined in the Constitution?
2. Whether the State was and is under an affirmative obligation to ensure
that the vision of the founding fathers to change the perception of
the State and its functionaries from rulers to public servants who are
to serve rather than govern the people, was implemented in letter and
spirit?
3. Whether by virtue of Article 21 read with Article 14, State is under
an obligation to afford the same degree of protection to the safety
and security of every person irrespective of any office held by such
person or status of such person or any other factor?
4. Whether the grant of protection [by way of escorts or otherwise],
particularly at the expense of the State, on the basis of an office
held by a person or any other factor [other than a perceived need to
grant heightened protection on account of aggravated threat to the
life of any person on account of his lawful occupation, assessed on an
objective basis] is illegal, ultra vires and unconstitutional?
5. Whether the State is under an obligation to ensure that any heightened
protection granted to any person, or any special security arrangements
made for any person, holding public office, is done in a manner that
does not violate the principle of republicanism and the provisions or
Art. 18 and 21 of the Constitution?
Shri Pallav Shishodia, learned senior counsel appearing for
respondent No.6 says that the questions proposed by the learned
counsel appearing for the petitioner are of great public
importance and he will have no objection if same are considered
by the Court. He also suggested that the Court may suo motu
order impleadment of all the States and Union Territories as
parties so that they may also make appropriate submissions.
We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel and
are prima facie satisfied first four of the five questions
framed by Shri Salve would require detailed examination.
Let notice be issued to all the States and Union Territories
through their Secretaries, Home Department so as to enable them
to file their written response in the context of question No. 1
to 4 framed by learned senior counsel appearing for the
petitioner. Notice is returnable in six weeks.
Keeping in view the importance of the questions framed
hereinabove, we request the learned Solicitor General to assist
the Court.”

 

On 17.1.2013, the Court considered the prayer made in the
application filed on behalf of the SLP petitioner and passed the
following order:

 

“Shri Harish Salve, learned senior counsel representing the
petitioner in S.L.P.(C) No.25237 of 2010 place before the
Court an application for direction in which it has been prayed
that a direction may be issued to all the States and Union
Territories to furnish information under the following headings:

 

(a) The Rules, Orders or Guidelines, if any, in the State which
prescribe the policy for permitting Red Lights on vehicles to
various persons in the state.

 

(b) The Rules, Orders or Guidelines, if any, in the state which
prescribe the policy of the state for permitting security
personnel to individuals.

 

(c) The Names and the designation of the persons to whom
security personnel have been provided and the number of security
persons provided to them.

 

(d) Total cost borne by the state for providing security in
terms as aforesaid.

 

(e) Total number of security personnel in the state and the
total number of such personnel who are engaged in (i)
Maintaining Law and Order, (ii) Crime Prevention and
investigation and (iii) Traffic Management.

 

Learned counsel for the States and Union Territories must ensure
that affidavits of the responsible officers of the Home
Department of their respective States and Union Territories
are filed within three weeks from today. Any lapse in this
regard will be viewed seriously.

 

For further consideration, list the cases on 07.02.2013.”

 

On the next effective date of hearing, i.e., 14.2.2013, the
Court took into consideration two notes made available by the learned
Amicus and passed detailed order, the relevant portions of which are
reproduced below:

 

“Before considering the issues raised in the 2nd note made
available by Shri Salve, we deem it proper to issue the
following directions:

 

1. All the State Governments and the Administration of Union
Territories shall furnish the details of the total expenses
incurred in providing security to public functionaries and
private individuals other than holders of the constitutional
office like the President, the Vice-President, the Prime
Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Chairman of the
Rajya Sabha and the Chief Justice of India and their
counter parts in the States and Union Territories.

 

2. Total number of persons other than the dignitaries, to whom
reference has been made in the preceding paragraph, to whom
security has been provided at the State expense giving the
details of number of persons of various cadres deputed for
providing security to the various persons.

 

3. The details of the security provided to the children and
other family members / relatives of the public functionaries
within or outside the State/Union Territory.

 

4. The details of the persons who are facing criminal charges,
charges of violating any provisions of law and to whom security
has been provided at State expense.

 

5. The details of the private individuals to whom the security
has been provided at the cost of public exchequer, whether in
lieu of payment made by them or otherwise.

 

6. Each State Government/Union Territory shall security
provided to public functionaries and provide details of the
review undertaken of the private individuals.

 

7. All the States and Union Territories shall file copies of the
Rules/Orders which authorises the police and other functionaries
to close roads for movement of public functionaries or their
visits.

 

8. The notifications issued by the Central Government, State
Governments and the Union Territories authorising use of Sirens
other than by the man in uniform and those engaged and
providing medical facilities to the patients and victims of
accidents.”

 

When the case was taken up for hearing on 3.4.2013, Shri Harish N.
Salve made submissions with reference to the following three questions:
“1. Whether the use of beacons red-light and sirens by persons
other than high constitutional functionaries is lawful and
constitutional?

 

2. Whether the provision of security to persons other than the
constitutional functionaries without corresponding increase in
sanctioned strength and without a specific assessment of threat
is lawful and constitutional?

 

3. Whether the closure of roads for facilitating movement of
VIPs is lawful and constitutional?”

 

 

 

Further arguments were heard on 4.4.2013 and certain directions were
issued in the light of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for
short, ‘the 1988 Act’), the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (for short,
‘the 1989 Rules’)and the Rules framed by the State Governments, the
relevant portions of which are extracted hereunder:
“The Motor Vehicles Act was enacted in 1988 and the Rules were framed
by the Central Government and various State Governments in 1989. The
legislative bodies and the authorities have not thought it proper to
make appropriate amendments to bring the provisions of the Act and the
Rules in conformity with the aspirations of the people of a republic
and even now a small section of the society considers itself to be as
a special category as compared to other citizens. This appears to be
the primary reason why the Governments after Governments have issued
notifications under Section 6 of the 1988 Act and the rules framed
thereunder authorizing the use of beacons on government vehicles
(some persons use such beacons even on private vehicles). The time has
come when the use of beacons on the vehicles, government or non-
government is drastically restricted so that the people’s right to
freedom of movement is not hindered in any manner whatsoever.

 

Learned counsel representing some of the State Governments have not
controverted the assertion made by Shri Salve that not only the high
dignitaries on duty but large number of other elected and non-elected
persons are allowed to use beacons and sirens/hooters causing serious
invoncenience to the general public using the roads and even
otherwise.

 

Shri Salve also brought to our notice the fact that the vehicles of
the State neighbouring NCT of Delhi use beacons with flashers and
sirens even though they are not permitted to do so in the NCT of
Delhi.

 

With a view to ensure that menace of beacons on vehicles and use of
sirens is stopped except in the cases of heads of the constitutional
institutions, we deem it proper to give an opportunity to the Central
Government as also the Governments of all the States and the
Administration of the Union Territories to amend the relevant
provisions of the Rules and the notifications issued under Rule 108 of
the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and corresponding provisions in
the State Rules as also Rule 119 for restricting the use of beacons by
the heads of political executive, legislature and judiciary only and
total prohibition on the use of siren except by police, ambulance,
fire fighters, Army and those permitted in Rule 119(3) of the 1989
Rules and the corresponding Rules framed by the State Governments.

 

We also deem it proper to indicate that it will be prudent for the
Central Government and the State Governments as well as the
administration of the Union Territories to substantially increase the
fine for violation of the provisions of the 1988 Act and in particular
those relating to the matters indicated hereinabove.”

 

 

 

Shri Mohan Parasaran, learned Solicitor General, Shri Sidharth
Luthra, learned Additional Solicitor General representing the Union of
India and Delhi Administration respectively, and Shri Gaurav Bhatia,
learned Additional Advocate General, Uttar Pradesh agreed that unauthorized
use of red lights on motor vehicles and multi-toned horns deserves to be
dealt with sternly and exemplary fine should be imposed on the violators.
After considering their statement, the Court adjourned the case to
enable them to get in touch with the concerned authorities to find out a
possible administrative and legislative solution to this menace. However,
neither the Central Government nor the State Governments took any step for
checking the menace of unauthorized use of red lights and multi-toned
horns.
On the next date of hearing, i.e., 19.8.2013, the Court heard the
arguments on the interpretation of Rules 108 and 119 of the Central Motor
Vehicles Rules, 1989 and notification dated 11.1.2002 issued by the Central
Government. Thereafter, the learned Solicitor General made available a
short note on behalf of the Union of India (Ministry of Road, Transport and
Highways) and the learned Amicus handed over note containing the gist of
his submissions. Two further notes were made available on 4.10.2013 by
Shri Sushil Kumar Jain, Senior Advocate representing the SLP petitioner.
Shri Harish Salve, learned Amicus pointed out that Rule 108(1)
imposes total prohibition against showing a red light to the front or light
other than red to rear and that exemption envisaged by proviso (iii) to
Rule 108(1) is limited to a vehicle carrying “high dignitaries” as
specified by the Central Government or the State Governments, from time to
time. Shri Salve emphasized that even though the term “high dignitaries”
has not been defined in the 1988 Act and the 1989 Rules, keeping in view
the Preamble of the Constitution which talks of equality of status and the
dignity of individual, that term must be given a restricted interpretation
to include only Heads of three wings of the Republic, i.e., the President,
the Vice-President, the Governors of the States, the Prime Minister, the
Chief Ministers, Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Speakers of
Legislative Assemblies and Chairmen of Legislative Councils and the Chief
Justice of India and the Chief Justices of the High Courts. He submitted
that while the Central Government has restricted the use of red light with
or without flasher on the top front of a vehicle carrying high dignitaries
who have been specified in Notification dated 11.1.2002, as amended by
Notification dated 28.7.2005, and that too while on duty, the State
Governments have exercised the rule making power under Section 110 and
allowed the use of red lights with or without flasher by a very large
number of public representatives at various levels as also the public
servants and made a mockery of the object of proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1).
The learned Amicus submitted that the use of red light with or without
flasher on the top of the government vehicles allotted to a large body of
public representatives and civil servants has become a status symbol and
those using such vehicles treat themselves as a class different than
ordinary citizens. According to Shri Salve, the widespread use of red
lights on government vehicles in the country is reflective of the mentality
of those who served British Government in India and treated the natives as
slaves. He drew our attention to the rules framed by various State
Governments and the notifications issued permitting use of red lights with
or without flasher on the top of the vehicles to show that the idea of
permitting red light on the vehicle carrying “high dignitaries” has been
reduced to a farce.
Shri Salve also referred to Rule 119 of the 1989 Rules and argued
that despite total prohibition on use of multi-toned horns, vehicles used
by public servants of different categories are indulging in rampant
violation of the prohibition. Shri Salve pointed out that in terms of Rule
119(3), only in the vehicles used as ambulances or for fire fighting or
salvage purposes or vehicles used by police officers or operators of
construction equipment vehicles or officers of the Motor Vehicles
Department in the course of their duty or on construction equipment
vehicles, the registering authority can permit use of multi-toned horns,
but such horns are being used by public representatives from the lowest to
the highest level and civil servants of every possible category and those
entrusted with the task of enforcing these provisions contemptuously
overlook the violations.
Shri Mohan Parasaran, learned Solicitor General argued that in the
absence of challenge to the vires and constitutionality of Rule 108, this
Court cannot impose restriction on the power of the Central Government to
specify the vehicles carrying “high dignitaries” which may be permitted to
use red light with or without flasher. He further argued that there is no
valid reason to give a restricted meaning to the term “high dignitaries”
and it should be left to the Central and the State Governments to specify
the “high dignitaries”. According to the learned Solicitor General, the
vehicles carrying certain dignitaries and category of officials constitute
a class by themselves and no illegality has been committed by the State
Governments by allowing use of red lights on the vehicles carrying a large
number of public representatives and public servants. He submitted that
fixing of red lights on the vehicles used by civil servants is essential
for effective discharge of their duties. Learned Solicitor General
submitted that such use of red lights facilitates the movement of public
representatives and civil servants. He then submitted that clause (e) of
notification dated 11.1.2002 contains conditions for exercise of power by
the State Government to grant exemption and argued that in some cases, the
State Government might have violated the conditions specified in
notification dated 11.1.2002, but that cannot be a ground for restricting
the use of red lights on the vehicles used by government officers.
Shri Parasaran submitted that (1) men in uniform; (2) operational
agencies which require un-hindered access to the road for performance of
their duty; (3) those engaged in emergency duties such as ambulance
services, fire services, emergency maintenance etc; and (4) officials in
Districts, etc., such as Divisional Commissioner, DM, ADM, SDM, Executive
Magistrates or where their functional requirements necessitate smooth, fast
and easy passage in certain circumstances, are not entitled to use red
light on their vehicles but lights of other colours, e.g., blue, white,
multicoloured etc.
On the issue of use of multi-toned horns, the learned Solicitor
General submitted that Rule 119(2) imposes total prohibition on the
fittings of such horns on any vehicle subject to the exceptions specified
in clause (3) thereof and the Union of India is fully committed to ensure
total compliance of the prohibition.

 

Shri Siddharth Luthra, learned Additional Solicitor General supported
the argument of learned Solicitor General and submitted that the term “high
dignitaries” should be so interpreted as to include all those who are
holding constitutional offices, i.e., the President, the Vice-President,
the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India,
the Judges of the Supreme Court, Chairman of the Union Public Service
Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Election
Commissioner and their counterparts in the States. Shri Luthra also
emphasized that use of the lights of different colours on the vehicles
carrying civil servants is absolutely imperative because that facilitates
their movement and enables them to effectively discharge their duties.
We have considered the respective arguments and perused the
provisions of the 1988 Act, the 1989 Rules as also the Rules framed by
various State Governments and Administration of Union Territories. We have
also gone through notifications dated 11.1.2002 and 28.7.2005 issued by the
Central Government under proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1) of the 1989 Rules.
The basics of Indian Republic were outlined in the Resolution moved
by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in the meeting of the Constituent Assembly held
on 13.12.1946. The relevant portions of the same are extracted below:

 

“(1)This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to
proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for
her future governance a Constitution; (2)WHEREIN the territories that
now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian
States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and
the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be
constituted into the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a Union of
them all; and (3) WHEREIN the said territories, whether with their
present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the
Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the Law of the
Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous Units,
together with residuary powers, and exercise all powers and functions
of government and administration, save and except such powers and
functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are
inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and (4)
WHEREIN all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India,
its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the
people; and (5)WHEREIN shall be guaranteed and secured to all the
people of India justice, social, economic and political; equality of
status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought,
expression, belief, faith worship, vocation, association and action,
subject to law and public morality; and (6)WHEREIN adequate safeguards
shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and
depressed and other backward classes; and (7)WHEREBY shall be
maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its
sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to Justice and the
law of civilised nations, and (8)this ancient land attains its
rightful and honoured place in the world and make its full and willing
contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of
mankind.

 

I hope, the House will notice that in this Resolution, although we
have not used the word ‘democratic’ because we thought it is obvious
that the word ‘republic’ contains that word and we did not want to use
unnecessary words and redundant words, but we have done something much
more than using the word. We have given the content of democracy in
this Resolution and not only the content of democracy but the content,
if I may say so, of economic democracy in this Resolution.

 

The Resolution placed before you to-day has equality as its underlying
theme. The different sections of the country have been given autonomy
and India as a whole remains one with full sovereignty. We shall stand
united in affairs which demand our unity. The one important thing in
the Resolution is the recognition of India as a free country. Our
country is one and yet we shall give full freedom to its various
sections to have for themselves whatever administration they liked.
The present division of our country into provinces may change. We
shall do justice to all communities and give them full freedom in
their social and religious affairs.

 

The word ‘people’ means all the people. I am myself a servant of the
farmers. To work with them is my highest glory. The term people’ is
comprehensive and contains all the people, It is, therefore, my
opinion that no adjective should be attached to it.”
(emphasis added)

 

On 15.8.1947, Dr. Rajendra Prasad addressed the Constituent Assembly
of India wherein he identified the roles of various sections of the society
and the Government. The English translation of the address is reproduced
below:
“Let us in this momentous hour of our history, when we are assuming
power for the governance of our country, recall in grateful
remembrance the services and sacrifices of all those who laboured and
suffered for the achievement of the independence we are attaining
today. Let us on this historic occasion pay our homage to the maker of
our modern history, Mahatma Gandhi, who has inspired and guided us
through all these years of trial and travail and who in spite of the
weight of years is still working in his own way to complete what is
left yet unaccomplished.

 

Let us gratefully acknowledge that while our achievement is in no
small measure due to our own sufferings, and sacrifices, it is also
the result of world forces and events and last though not least it is
the consummation and fulfilment of the historic traditions and
democratic ideals of the British race whose farsighted leaders and
statesmen saw the vision and gave the pledges which are being redeemed
today. We are happy to have in our midst as a representative of that
race Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and his consort who have worked
hard and played such an important part in bringing this about during
the closing scenes of this drama. The period of domination by Britain
over India ends today and our relationship with Britain is
henceforward going to rest on a basis of equality, of mutual goodwill
and mutual profit.

 

It is undoubtedly a day of rejoicing. But there is only one thought
which mars and detracts from the fulness of this happy event. India,
which was made by God and Nature to be one, which culture and
tradition and history of millenniums have made one, is divided today
and many there are on the other side of the boundary who would much
rather be on this side. To them we send a word of cheer and assurance
and ask them not to give way to panic or despair but to live with
faith and courage in peace with their neighbours and fulfil the duties
of loyal citizenship and thus win their rightful place. We send our
greetings to the new Dominion which is being established today there
and wish it the best luck in its great work of governing that region
and making all its citizens happy and prosperous. We feel assured that
they all will be treated fairly and justly without any distinction or
discrimination. Let us hope and pray that the day will come when even
those who have insisted upon and brought about this division will
realise India’s essential oneness and we shall be united once again.
We must realise however that this can be brought about not by force
but by large heartedness and co-operation and by so managing our
affairs on this side as to attract those who have parted. It may
appear to be a dream but it is no more fantastic a dream than that of
those who wanted a division and may well be realised even sooner than
we dare hope for today.

 

More than a day of rejoicing it is a day of dedication for all of us
to build the India of our dreams. Let us turn our eyes away from the
past and fix our gaze on the future. We have no quarrel with other
nations and countries and let us hope no one will pick a quarrel with
us. By history and tradition we are a peaceful people and India wants,
to be at peace with the world. India’s Empire outside her own borders
has been of a different kind from all other Empires. India’s conquests
have been the conquests of spirit which did not impose heavy chains of
slavery, whether of iron or of gold, on others but tied other lands
and other peoples to her with the more enduring ties of golden silk—of
culture and civilisation, of religion and knowledge (gyan). We shall
follow that same tradition and shall have no ambition save that of
contributing our little mite to the building of peace and freedom in a
war-distracted world by holding aloft the banner under which we have
marched to victory and placing in a practical manner in the hands of
the world the great weapon of Non-violence which has achieved this
unique result. India has a great part to play. There is something in
her life and culture which has enabled her to survive the onslaughts
of time and today we witness a new birth full of promise, if only we
prove ourselves true to our ideals.

 

Let us resolve to create conditions in this country when every
individual will be free and provided with the wherewithal to develop
and rise to his fullest stature, when poverty and squalor and
ignorance and ill-health will have vanished, when the distinction
between high and low, between rich and poor, will have disappeared,
when religion will not only be professed and preached and practised
freely but will have become a cementing force for binding man to man
and not serve as a disturbing and disrupting force dividing and
separating, when untouchability will have been forgotten like an
unpleasant night dream, when exploitation of man by man will have
ceased, when facilities and special arrangements will have been
provided for the adimjatis of India and for all others who are
backward, to enable them to catch up to others and when this land will
have not only enough food to feed its teeming millions but will once
again have become a land flowing with rivers of milk, when men and
women will be laughing and working for all they are worth in fields
and factories, when every cottage and hamlet will be humming with the
sweet music of village handicrafts and maids will be busy with them
and singing to their tune—when the sun and the moon will be shining on
happy homes and loving faces.

 

To bring all this about we need all the idealism and sacrifice, all
the intelligence and diligence, all the determination and the power of
organisation that we can muster. We have many parties and groups with
differing ideals and ideologies. They are all trying to convert the
country to their own ideologies and to mould the constitution and the
administration to suit their own view point. While they have the right
to do so, the country and the nation have the right to demand loyalty
from them. All must realise that what is needed most today is a great
constructive effort—not strife, hard solid work—not argumentation, and
let us hope that all will be prepared to make their contribution. We
want the peasant to grow more food, we want the workers to produce
more goods, we want our industrialists to use their intelligence, tact
and resourcefulness for the common good. To all we must assure
conditions of decent and healthy life and opportunities for self-
improvement and self-realisation.

 

Not only have the people to dedicate themselves to this great task
that lies ahead but those who have so far been playing the role of
rulers and regulators of the lives of our men and women have to assume
the role of servants. Our army has won undying glory in distant lands
for its bravery and great fighting qualities. Our soldiers, sailors
and airmen have to realise that they now form a national army on whom
devolves the duty not only of defending the freedom which we have won
but also to help in a constructive way in building up a new life.
There is no place in the armed forces of our country which is not open
to our people, and what is more they are required to take the highest
places as soon as they can so that they may take full charge of our
defences. Our public servants in various departments of Government
have to shed their role as rulers and have to become true servants of
the people that their compeers are in all free countries. The people
and the Government on their side have to give them their trust and
assure them conditions of service in keeping with the lives of the
people in whose midst they have to live and serve.

 

We welcome the Indian States which have acceded to India and to their
people we offer our hands of comradeship. To the princes and the
rulers of the States we say that we have no designs against them. We
trust they will follow the example of the King of England and become
constitutional rulers. They would do well to take as their model the
British monarchical system which has stood the shock of two successive
world wars when so many other monarchies in Europe have toppled down.

 

To Indians settled abroad in British Colonies and elsewhere we send
our good wishes and assurance of our abiding interest in their
welfare. To our minorities we give the assurance that they will
receive fair and just treatment and their rights will be respected and
protected.

 

One of the great tasks which we have in hand is to complete the
constitution under which not only will freedom and liberty be assured
to each and all but which will enable us to achieve and attain and
enjoy its fulfilment and its fruits. We must accomplish this task as
soon as possible so that we may begin to live and work under a
constitution of our own making, of which we may all be proud, and
which it may become our pride and privilege to defend and to preserve
to the lasting good of our people and for the service of mankind. In
framing that constitution we shall naturally draw upon the experience
and knowledge of other countries and nations no less than on our own
traditions and surroundings and may have at times to disregard the
lines drawn by recent history and lay down new boundary lines not only
of Provinces but also of distribution of powers and functions. Our
ideal is to have a constitution that will enable the people’s will to
be expressed and enforced and that will not only secure liberty to the
individual but also reconcile and make that liberty subservient to the
common good.

 

We have up to now been taking a pledge to achieve freedom and to,
undergo all sufferings and sacrifices for it. Time has come when we
have to take a pledge of another kind. Let no one imagine that the
time for work and sacrifice is gone and the time for enjoying the
fruits thereof has come. Let us realise that the demand on our
enthusiasm and capacity for unselfish work in the future will be as
great as, if not greater than, what it has ever been before. We have,
therefore, to dedicate ourselves once again to the great cause that
beckons us. The task is great, the times are propitious. Let us pray
that we may have the strength, the wisdom and the courage to fulfil
it.”

 

(emphasis added)

 

 

 

Both the leaders, who were visionaries of the time, laid emphasis on
the need for ensuring equality among all, abolition of distinction between
high and low, between rich and poor and change of the role of various
segments of governance and also the need for protecting the dignity of
every individual.
When we achieved independence in 1947, India was a baby aiming to
grow to become one of the respected members of the world community. The
leaders of Independence movement undertook an onerous task of framing the
Constitution for the country. They studied the Constitutions of various
countries and adopted their best provisions for creating an egalitarian
society with the aim of ensuring justice, – social, economic and political,
various types of freedoms, equality of opportunity and of status and
ensuring dignity of every individual. During the drafting of the
Constitution, the Preliminary notes on Fundamental Rights issued by the
Constitutional Advisor, B.N. Rau, specifically dealt with the issue of
equality using examples from various Constitutions to emphasize its
importance. One of the issues highlighted in the note was that if the
instinct of power is concentrated in few individuals then naked greed for
power will destroy the basics of democratic principles. But, what we have
done in the last four decades would shock the most established political
systems. The best political and executive practices have been distorted to
such an extent that they do not even look like distant cousins of their
original forms. The best example of this is the use of symbols of
authority including the red lights on the vehicles of public
representatives from the lowest to the highest and civil servants of
various cadres. The red lights symbolize power and a stark differentiation
between those who are allowed to use it and the ones who are not. A large
number of those using vehicles with red lights have no respect for the laws
of the country and they treat the ordinary citizens with contempt. The use
of red lights on the vehicles of public representatives and civil servants
has perhaps no parallel in the world democracies.
For deciding the questions framed by Shri Salve, it will be useful to
notice Section 70 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (for short, ‘the 1939
Act’), Sections 109, 110 and 111 of the 1989 Act and Rules 108, 108-A and
119 of the 1989 Rules. The same read as under:

 

Section 70 of the 1939 Act:

 

“Power to make rules – (1) A State Government may make rules
regulating the construction, equipment and maintenance of motor
vehicles and trailers (with respect to all matters other than the
matters referred to in clause (a) or clause (b) of sub-section (1) of
Section 69-B.

 

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power,
rules may be made under this section governing any of the following
matters, either generally in respect of motor vehicles or trailers or
in respect of motor vehicles or trailers of a particular class or in
particular circumstances namely-

 

(a) x x x x

 

(b)seating arrangements in public service vehicles and the protection
of passengers against the weather;

 

(c) x x x x

 

(d) brakes and steering gear;

 

(e) the use of safety glass;

 

(f)signaling appliances, lamps and reflectors;

 

(g) speed governors;

 

(h) the emission of smoke, visible vapour, sparks, ashes, grit or oil;

 

(i) the reduction of noise emitted by or caused by vehicles;

 

(j)prohibiting or restricting the use of audible signals at certain
times or in certain places;

 

(k) prohibiting the carrying of appliances likely to cause annoyance
or danger;

 

(l) the periodical testing and inspection of vehicles by prescribed
authorities;

 

(m) the particulars other than registration marks to be exhibited by
vehicles and the manner in which they shall be exhibited; and

 

(n) the use of trailers with motor vehicles.”

 

 

 

Sections 109, 110 and 111 of the 1988 Act:

 

“Section 109. General provision regarding construction and maintenance
of vehicles – (1) Every motor vehicle shall be so constructed and so
maintained as to be at all times under the effective control of the
person driving the vehicle.

 

(2) Every motor vehicle shall be so constructed as to have right hand
steering control unless it is equipped with a mechanical or electrical
signaling device of a prescribed nature.

 

(3) If the Central Government is of the opinion that it is necessary
or expedient so to do in public interest, it may by order published in
the Official Gazette, notify that any article or process used by a
manufacturer shall conform to such standard as may be specified in
that order.

 

Section 110. Power of Central Government to make rules. –

 

(1) The Central Government may make rules regulating the construction,
equipment and maintenance of motor vehicles and trailers with respect
to all or any of the following matters, namely :-

 

(a) the width, height, length and overhand of vehicles and of the
loads carried;

 

(b) the size, nature, maximum retail price and condition of tyres,
including embossing thereon of date and year of manufacture, and the
maximum load carrying capacity;

 

(c) brakes and steering gear;

 

(d) the use of safety glasses including prohibition of the use of
tinted
safety glasses;

 

(e) signalling appliances, lamps and reflectors;

 

(f) speed governors;

 

(g) the emission of smoke, visible vapour, sparks, ashes, grit or oil;

 

(h) the reduction of noise emitted by or caused by vehicles;

 

 

 

(i) the embossment of chassis number and engine number and the date of
manufacture;

 

(j) safety belts, handle bars or motor cycles, auto-dippers and other
equipment’s essential for safety of drivers, passengers and other road
user.

 

(k) standards of the components used in the vehicle as inbuilt safety
devices;

 

(l) provision for transportation of goods of dangerous or hazardous
nature to human life;

 

(m) standards for emission of air pollutants;

 

(n) installation of catalytic convertors in the class of vehicles to
be prescribed;

 

(o) the placement of audio-visual or radio or tape recorder type of
devices in public vehicles;

 

(p) warranty after sale of vehicle and norms therefore:

 

Provided that any rules relating to the matters dealing with the
protection of environment, so far as may be, shall be made after
consultation with the Ministry of the Government of India dealing with
environment.

 

(2) Rules may be made under sub-section (1) governing the matters
mentioned therein, including the manner of ensuring the compliance
with such matters and the maintenance of motor vehicles in respect of
such matters, either generally in respect of motor vehicles or
trailers or in respect of motor vehicles or trailers of a particular
class or in particular circumstances.

 

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, –

 

(a) the Central Government may exempt any class of motor vehicles from
the provisions of this Chapter;

 

(b) a State Government may exempt any motor vehicle or any class or
description of motor vehicles from the rules made under sub-section
(1) subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central
Government.

 

Section 111.Power of State Government to make rules – (1) A State
Government may make rules regulating the construction, equipment and
maintenance of motor vehicles and trailers with respect to all matters
other than the matters specified in sub-section (1) of section 110.

 

(2)Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, rules
may be made under this section governing all or any of the following
matters either generally in respect of motor vehicles or trailers or
in respect of motor vehicles or trailers of a particular class or
description or in particular circumstances, namely:-

 

a) seating arrangements in public service vehicles and the
protection of passengers against the weather;

 

b) prohibiting or restricting the use of audible signals at certain
times or in certain places;
c) prohibiting the carrying of appliances likely to cause annoyance
or danger;

 

d) the periodical testing and inspection of vehicles by prescribed
authorities (and fees to be charged for such test);

 

e) the particulars other than registration marks to be exhibited by
vehicles and the manner in which they shall be exhibited;

 

f) the use of trailers with motor vehicles; and

 

(g) x x x x”

 

Rules 108, 108-A and 119 of the 1989 Rules:

 

“108. Use of red, white or blue light.—(1) No motor vehicle shall show
a red light to the front or light other than red to rear:

 

Provided that the provisions of this rule shall not apply to—

 

(i) the internal lighting of the vehicle; or

 

(ii) the amber light, if displayed by any direction indicator or top
light or as top light used on vehicle for operating within the
premises like airports, ports without going outside the said premises
on to public roads;

 

(iii) a vehicle carrying high dignitaries as specified by the Central
Government or the State Government, as the case may be, from time to
time;

 

(iv) the blinker type of red light with purple glass fitted to an
ambulance van used for carrying patients; or

 

(v) to a vehicle having a lamp fitted with an electrical bulb, if the
power of the bulb does not exceed seven watts and the lamp is fitted
with frosted glass or any other material which has the effect of
diffusing the light;

 

(vi) white light illuminating the rear number plate;

 

(vii) white light used while reversing;

 

(viii) plough light provided in agricultural tractors for illuminating
the implement’s working area on the ground in agricultural field
operations.

 

 

 

(2) Use of blue light with flasher shall be determined and notified by
the State Governments at their discretion;

 

(3) Use of blue light with or without flasher shall be permitted as
top light on vehicles escorting high dignitaries entitled to the use
of red light;

 

(4) Use of multi-coloured red, blue and white light shall be permitted
only on vehicles specifically designated for emergency duties and
shall be specifically specified by State Governments;

 

(5) The State Government shall inform the Central Government regarding
publication of notifications issued by the concerned State Government
under sub-rule (2) and under clause (e) of the Notification No. S.O.
52(E), dated 11th January, 2002, published in the Gazette of India,
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, regarding use of red light on
top of vehicle being used by dignitaries;

 

(6) In case vehicle is not carrying dignitaries, red or blue light, as
the case may be, light shall not be used and be covered by black
cover.

 

108-A. Use of red or white light on construction equipment
vehicles.—No construction equipment vehicle shall show a red light to
the front or light other than red to the rear:

 

Provided that the provision of this rule shall not apply to:—

 

(i) the internal lighting of the vehicle;
(ii) the amber light, if displayed by any direction indicator or top
light;

 

(iii) white light illuminating the rear or side registration number
plate;

 

(iv) white light used while reversing;

 

(v) light provided for illuminating the implement’s working area on
the ground in off-highway or construction operations.

 

119. Horns.—(1) On and after expiry of one year from the date of
commencement of the Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 1999,
every motor vehicle, agricultural tractor, power tiller and
construction equipment vehicle manufactured shall be fitted with an
electric horn or other devices conforming to the requirements of IS:
1884—1992, specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards for use by the
driver of the vehicle and capable of giving audible and sufficient
warning of the approach or position of the vehicle:

 

Provided that on and from 1st January, 2003, the horn installation
requirements for motor vehicle shall be as per AIS-014 specifications,
as may be amended from time to time, till such time as corresponding
Bureau of Indian Standards specifications are notified.

 

(2) No motor vehicle including agricultural tractor shall be fitted
with any multi-toned horn giving a succession of different notes or
with any other sound-producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill,
loud or alarming noise.

 

(3) Nothing contained in sub-rule (2) shall prevent the use on
vehicles used as ambulance or for fire fighting or salvage purposes or
on vehicles used by police officers or operators of construction
equipment vehicles or officers of the Motor Vehicles Department in the
course of their duties or on construction equipment vehicles of such
sound signals as may be approved by the registering authority in whose
jurisdiction such vehicles are kept.”

 

 

 

In exercise of the power vested in it under proviso (iii) to Rule
108(1) of the 1989 Rules, the Central Government issued Notification SO
52(E) dated 11.01.2002 which was amended by Notification SO 1070(E) dated
28.7.2005. The same reads as under:
“(a) red light with flasher on the top front of the vehicle, while on
duty anywhere in the country-

 

1) President,
2) Vice-President
3) Prime Minister
4) Former Presidents
5) Deputy Prime Minister
6) Chief Justice of India
7) Speaker of Lok Sabha
8) Cabinet Ministers of the Union
9) Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
10) Former Prime Ministers
11) Leaders of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha
12) Judges of the Supreme Court.

 

(b) red light without flasher on the top front of the vehicle, while
on duty anywhere in the country-

 

1) Chief Election Commissioner
2) Comptroller and Auditor General of India
3) Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha
4) Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha
5) Ministers of the State of the Union
6) Members of the Planning Commission
7) Attorney General of India
8) Cabinet Secretary
9) Chiefs of Staff of the three services holding the rank of full
General or equivalent rank
10) Deputy Ministers of the Union
11) Officiating Chiefs of Staff or the three services holding the
rank of Lt. General or equivalent rank
12) Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal
13) Chairman, Minorities Commission
14) Chairman, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission
15) Chairman, Union Public Service Commission

 

(c) Any vehicle carrying the dignitary formally designated as
equivalent in rank, status and privileges to those dignitaries
referred to in Items (a) and (b) above shall be entitled to use the
red light as per the corresponding privileges. The vehicles carrying
the dignitaries assigned rank in their personal capacities by the
Ministry of Home Affairs shall be entitled to use red light as per the
corresponding privileges assigned to those dignitaries referred to in
items (a) and (b) above.

 

(d)In case the vehicle fitted with red light on top front is not
carrying the dignitaries, then such red light shall not be used and be
covered by a black cover.

 

(e) The State Governments and Union Territory Administrations shall
issue similar notifications on the use of red light in respect of high
dignitaries of their State Governments or Union Territory
Administrations, such as Governor, Lt.Governor, Chief Minister, Chief
Justices and Judges of High Courts, Chairman, Speaker and Cabinet
Ministers of State/Union Territory Legislatures, etc., as the case may
be.”
(emphasis added)

 

We shall first deal with the issue of use of multi-toned horns in
violation of Rule 119 of the 1989 Rules and the corresponding Rules framed
by the State Governments and the Administration of the Union Territories.
Since the learned Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitor General
are in agreement with the learned Amicus that the prohibition contained in
Rule 119(2) on the use of multi-toned horns giving a succession of
different notes or with any other sound producing device giving an unduly
harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise is absolute with certain exceptions
specified in sub-rule (3), the only thing required to be done by the
Central and the State Governments is to implement the prohibition in its
letter and spirit. Their failure to do so for last almost 24 years is
inexplicable. The contemptuous disregard to the prohibition by people in
power, holders of public offices, civil servants and even ordinary citizens
is again reflective of ‘Raj Mentality’ and is antithesis of the concept of
a Republic. We feel that the only possible remedy to curb the menace of
use of multi-toned horns is to impose exemplary fine on the violators and
ensure its rigorous enforcement by the concerned authorities and agencies.
On the issue of use of vehicles with red lights, we were inclined to
agree with Shri Harish Salve, learned Amicus that use of signs and symbols
of authority such as red lights, etc., is contrary to the constitutional
ethos and the basic feature of republicanism, but, on a deeper
consideration, we have felt persuaded to accept the submissions of the
learned Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitor General that the
term “high dignitaries” used in proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1) of the 1989
Rules would take within its fold various constitutional functionaries,
i.e., holders of the constitutional offices. When the framers of the
Constitution have considered it appropriate to treat those occupying
constitutional positions as a special category, there is no reason for the
Court to exclude them from the ambit of the term “high dignitaries”. The
use of red lights on the vehicles carrying the holders of constitutional
posts will in no manner compromise with the dignity of other citizens and
individuals or embolden them to think that they are superior to other
people, more so, because this distinction would be available to them only
while on duty and would be co-terminus with their tenure. However, the
Governments of most of the States and Administration of Union Territories
have framed rules and issued notifications allowing use of red lights on
the vehicles carrying large number of persons other than “high
dignitaries”. They have also used the power of issuing notifications to
enlarge the list of the persons entitled to use red lights with or without
flashers whether on duty or otherwise. Most of these notifications are far
beyond the scope of clause ‘c’ of Notifications dated 11.1.2002 and
28.7.2005 issued by the Central Government. It also deserves to be
mentioned that there has been abysmal failure on the part of the concerned
authorities and agencies of various State Governments and the
Administration of the Union Territories to check misuse of the vehicles
with red lights on their top. So much so that a large number of persons
are using red lights on their vehicles for committing crimes in different
parts of the country and they do so with impunity because the police
officials are mostly scared of checking vehicles with red lights, what to
say of imposing fine or penalty.
In the result, we hold as under:
1. The term “high dignitaries” used in proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1) of
the 1989 Rules takes within its fold the holders of various posts,
positions and offices specified in the Constitution.

 

2. The motor vehicles carrying “high dignitaries” specified by the
Central Government and their counterparts specified by the State
Government may be fitted with red lights but the red lights with or
without flasher can be used only while the specified high dignitary is
on duty and not otherwise.

 

3. The State Governments and Administration of Union Territories cannot
enlarge the scope of the term “high dignitaries” beyond what is
prescribed in clauses ‘c’ and ‘d’ of Notifications dated 11.1.2002 and
28.7.2005 issued by the Central Government. Therefore, they shall
amend the relevant rules and notifications to bring them in tune with
the 1989 Rules and notifications dated 11.1.2002 and 28.7.2002 issued
by the Central Government. This exercise must be completed within a
period of three months.

 

4. The men in uniform; operational agencies which require un-hindered
access to the roads for performance of their duty; those engaged in
emergency duties such as ambulance services, fire services, emergency
maintenance etc, and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or for
law and order duties shall not be entitled to have red lights but
lights of other colours, e.g., blue, white, multicoloured etc.

 

5. No motor vehicles except those specified in Rule 119(3) of the 1989
Rules or similar provisions contained in the rules framed by the State
Governments or the Administration of Union Territories shall be fitted
with multi-toned horns giving a succession of different notes or with
any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud
or alarming noise.

 

6. The police officers and other authorities entrusted with the task of
enforcing the provisions of the 1988 Act and the Rules framed
thereunder must discharge their duties without any fear or favour and
should impose appropriate penalty on those who violate the prohibition
contained in Rule 108(1) and Rule 119 and similar rules framed by the
State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories. The
owners/users of the vehicles fitted with multi-toned horns other than
those allowed to use such horns under Rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or
corresponding rules framed by the State Governments and the
Administration of the Union Territories shall, within a period of one
month from today, remove the multi-toned horns. The officers
authorised to enforce the provisions of the 1988 Act and the rules
framed thereunder by the Central Government, the State Governments and
the Administration of Union Territories shall also ensure that multi-
toned horns are removed from all the vehicles except those specified
in rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or corresponding rules framed by the
State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories.

 

7. The Chief Secretaries of all the States and the Administrators of
Union Territories shall cause a notice published in the newspapers
having wide circulation in their respective States and the Union
Territories incorporating the directions contained in this order.

 

In the note submitted by the learned Solicitor General, it has been
mentioned that Clause 51 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2012
contains a provision for imposition of enhanced penalty. That amendment is
not shown to have been carried out so far. We hope and trust that the
Legislature will make appropriate amendment and make provision for
imposition of adequate penalty which may operate as deterrent against
misuse of the provisions of the 1989 Act and the 1989 Rules generally and
the provisions of Rules 108 and 119 in particular. The State Governments
and the Administration of the Union Territories shall either amend the
existing rules or frame appropriate rules for imposing deterrent penalty on
the violators of the rules containing prohibition against the use of red
lights and multi-toned horns or similar devices.

 

……………………………………………J.
[G.S. SINGHVI]

 

 

 

NEW DELHI; ………………………………………….J.
DECEMBER 10, 2013. [C. NAGAPPAN]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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