The state Transport Department on Friday published a fresh list of VIPs and emergency officials who can use beacon lights atop their vehicles, and left out the governor, chief minister, Assembly speaker and chief justice of the Calcutta High Court from the list.
The Central government had in 2017 banned all kinds of beacon lights for VVIPs other than those who are involved in emergency and disaster management duties. However, the governor, chief minister, Assembly speaker and chief justice of the Calcutta High Court continue to use beacon lights as the state did not issue a notification in the same year.
Transport Minister Firhad Hakim on Friday said, “The chief minister, governor and other dignitaries are above this list. This list only defines who are in emergency and disaster management duties. CM, Governor, Chief Justice will also have red beacon lights.”\
He, thus, did not disclose if a second list of another set of VVIPs would be released. The notification, though, lists VIPs such as council of ministers, ministers of state, secretaries and other dignitaries whose vehicles can continue to sport beacon lights.
The notification read: “The state government is hereby pleased to notify… the general public that the vehicles of the following managements, while on duty, are assigned for the emergency and disaster management duties and are permitted to use the light atop of their vehicle in the state.”
The notification came in the wake of the illicit vaccination camps case last month. victim Debanjan Deb, who travelled in a blue beacon vehicle and disguised as an IAS officer, had supposedly held fake vaccination camps. He was captured last month.
A senior Transport Department official stated, “After this (illicit vaccination camps) event, police started Naka checking and forfeited many fake vehicles which were wrongly using beacon lights. The department then chose to issue the notification on the use of beacon lights.” The official uplifted concern that the notification did not explain on which colour of beacon light could be used by officials and political representatives.
Therefore, the officer said, “In this notification, which colour of light they should utilise, that was not assigned which is wrong in sense and that means that Chief Minister, Governors and other VVIP’S are totally excluded in this notification.”
In 2014, the Apex Court had instructed that all VIPs cannot use red beacon lights. The West Bengal government later issued a fresh list in which most VIPs were recorded for the privilege. In 2017, the Central Government asserted that only those who were engaged in emergency and disaster management duties can use multi-colour (red, white and blue) light on their vehicles. Although the state government had not released the new directive, it permitted its logo and flag in the front of the vehicle.
BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya hit the TMC government for waiting until the inoculation case for the new notification. “This government does not believe in administrative law. Their officers know this and act in a similar fashion,” the MP said.
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