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Centre, states get notice on plea against red beacon

The court was told that the constitution does not create classes of citizens.

New Delhi |
February 15, 2014 1:26:34 am

The Supreme Court on Friday asked central and state governments to respond to a plea seeking to declare as “unconstitutional” a section in the Motor Vehicle Rules that allowed use of red beacon lights by “high dignitaries”.

A Bench led by Justice R M Lodha issued notices after amicus curiae Harish Salve told the court that use of the term “high dignitaries” in Section 108 (iii) of the rules was an “anathema to the notion of a republic”.

Salve’s application sought direction to the central government to ensure that the ban on the use of red beacons under Section 108 of the MV Rules, 1988, was strictly enforced and observed.

The court was told that the constitution does not create classes of citizens in which those holding high offices would be treated differently and in a privileged manner, particularly by being allowed to use insignias that make them a class above the common citizen.

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“It is an accepted position that in a republic, political sovereignty lies in the citizenry, and not in those who hold office. This is in sharp contrast to monarchy in which sovereignty over the people rests with the monarch,” the plea said.

The court was told that the term “high dignitaries” which is “ill-defined”, in a constitutional framework, could not be a foundation for a class of people “who would be entitled to use insignias of sovereign power or status”.

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