Justice Singhvi leads by example: Why are we judges allowed sirens?

Supreme Court turned the spotlight upon itself,asking the government to specify the rule that allowed vehicles of apex court judges to use sirens.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2013 3:39 am

The Supreme Court turned the spotlight upon itself on Monday,asking the government to specify the rule that allowed vehicles of apex court judges to use sirens.

“How do you (Centre) permit Supreme Court judges to use sirens? We would like to know the rule concerned,” a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and V Gopala Gowda said as the use of sirens by “high dignitaries” came up.

The court asked how ministers were allowed to use sirens,and pointed out that Finance Minister P Chidambaram did not have a beacon and siren when he was home minister. “It is paradoxical,” the court said. “If a union home minister does not need all this,who else should need it?”

Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra told the bench that only the pilot vehicle moving ahead of a judge’s car used a siren. “No,you may not know it but all the vehicles have sirens,” the court retorted.

Justice Singhvi said his official car did not have a red beacon,“but the security personnel in the court are protesting. They say their instructions are being violated. They say how can they identify that a judge is in the car?”

The court indicated that it would allow only constitutional authorities to use beacons and sirens,and only in extraordinary situations. “Even the CJI is stopped when the convoy of Prime Minister passes. We had such an episode when (former CJI) Justice S P Bharucha was stopped. CJI’s vehicle has a red beacon but it still happens,” the court said.

The bench asked how a beacon could enhance an official’s capacity to work. It sought a categorical definition of the term “high dignitaries”,underlining that a very “liberal” use of this term could not be made the basis of differentiating between ordinary citizens and others.

The bench said that the red beacon light had become a “virtual reflection of the Raj days”.

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