The Punjab government has officially brought its Director General of Police (DGP) at par with the Chief of Army Staff to allow him to continue using a red beacon on his vehicle. And Punjab’s justification for the decision: the police is comparable to the Army.
“DGP (Sumedh Saini) is the chief of the police in the state. The police and army are comparable forces. It was decided that the DGP can be allowed to retain the red beacon under the category of the Chief of Army Staff. Due permission has been taken by the competent authority (the transport minister) for the inclusion of the DGP on the list,” said Principal Secretary (Transport) S S Channy, who notified the decision on February 28.
The Army chief is on the new restricted list of dignitaries at the Centre who have been allowed the luxury of using red beacons on their official vehicles by the Supreme Court. This list is to be followed by the states for dignitaries corresponding to those on the central list. Since the Centre does not technically have a head of police, a state DGP is not included in the list.
On December 10, 2013, a division bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice G S Singhvi had restricted the use of red beacons on government cars to only 20 dignitaries at the Centre and their corresponding figures in the state. All states across the country were asked to comply within three months.
Punjab’s neighbour Haryana, incidentally, has allowed only the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to have red beacons on their vehicles. All other dignitaries, including the chief minister, the cabinet and all officers, including the chief secretary, have offered to forego the privilege. The Haryana DGP was not even considered for the list.
“A majority of the officers in Haryana have removed the beacons and others are doing so. We have issued strict instructions in this regard,” said the the state’s Transport Commissioner Sumita Mishra.
The Punjab transport department is also looking at the option of using other colours like orange or yellow to be put atop the vehicles of digniotaries who cannot be accommodated in the list of red and blue beacons.