The Supreme Court of India ruled that the motor vehicles of only “high dignitaries” holding posts, positions and offices specified in the Constitution of India 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.
The Court said, “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 Court banned the use of multitoned horns and said, “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 multitoned horns is to impose exemplary fine on the violators and ensure its rigorous enforcement by the concerned authorities and agencies.”
The court also said that:
1. The State Governments and Administration of Union Territories cannot enlarge the scope of the term “high dignitaries” beyond what is prescribed in relevant Notifications issued by the Central Government. Therefore, they shall amend the relevant rules and notifications to bring them in tune with the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (“1989 Rules”) and relevant Notifications issued by the Central Government. This exercise must be completed within a period of three months.
2. 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, multi-coloured etc.
3. No motor vehicles except those specified in 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.
4. The police officers and other authorities entrusted with the task of enforcing the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 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 1989 Rules and similar rules framed by the State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories. The owners/users of the vehicles fitted with multitoned horns other than those allowed to use such horns under 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 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 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 1989 Rules or corresponding rules framed by the State Governments and the Administration of Union Territories.