The Union Cabinet has taken a major decision to end the use of red beacons on top of the vehicles used by government officials and dignitaries. This decision was taken on April 19, 2017, with the aim of putting an end to the "VIP culture". The use of these "red battis" will be banned from May 1, 2017.
As per the India TV report, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, bureaucrats, state cabinet ministers as well as all judges of the Supreme Court and High Court will not be allowed to use red beacons on their vehicles once the decision comes into effect. The 1st of May onward, only the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, and Speaker of Lok Sabha will continue to have the permission to use these beacons.
According to the Hindustan Times, this decision will also not apply to the vehicles belonging to the fire service, police, army, and ambulances, to ensure passage through traffic.
The ban does not apply to the Prime Minister, and he continues to have the privilege to use the red beacon atop his vehicle. However, India Today has reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to do away with the red beacon himself, to set an example for others.
This comes after recent reports of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also enforcing a ban on the use of red and blue beacons in Punjab. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had also recently warned the bureaucrats and ministers in his state against misusing the "red battis".
The debate has been raging for the past few years around the relevance of these beacons. The Supreme Court had called it "ridiculous and synonymous to power" back in 2013. They had also requested it to be removed immediately. After repeated conversations around the topic, with its use being called just a "status symbol" or pointed out as irrelevant for anyone other than the ambulances, fire services, or police, a step has finally been taken to get rid of the beacon.
This move is in line with the PM's vision of having a transparent government, and it seems to be a step closer to the goal.