The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the stoppage of traffic and other security paraphernalia put in place for facilitating the movement of a high functionary, while inconveniencing the public.
The apex court expressed displeasure over indiscriminate use of red beacon lights and its misuse by people in the name of security.
“Subject to correction, such security are being provided to certain people who are facing serious charges in courts of law. We think we should ask the union government and also state governments as to how many such people have been provided security. In states, different functionaries are allowed to use red light. Even a ‘sarpanch’ (village head) is using red light in Punjab,” observed a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Gyan Sudha Misra.
Lamenting the inconvenience being caused to the general public, the court also took note of a submission by senior advocate Harish Salve regarding absolute halt of general traffic to give passage to VIP movements.
“Have state governments issued any notification in this regard? We will have to look into several issues once we receive responses from the state governments. We will also examine in what cases traffic are stopped. We know it is not only for the Prime Minister but the traffic is stopped also when others move in the city,” observed the bench.
Incidentally, Salve on Saturday sent a notice to Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar asking him to stop the “unwholesome practice” of disrupting traffic to give passage to VIPs. He said the “practice” could attract legal action. The notice was sent after the police blocked traffic to ensure smooth movement of VIPs for the funeral of former prime minister I K Gujral.
Salve said the Delhi Police violated constitutional rights guaranteed to citizens by “indiscriminately” closing arterial roads — without notice and without putting alternative road diversions — to facilitate the movement of VIPs.
During the proceedings, the bench, sharing the concerns expressed by Salve, said that it could understand the exigency in case somebody was seriously injured and had to be rushed to a hospital.
“A traffic constable cannot let you go since he does not have an authority. A person may also die in such a situation. It is only one such illustration. There could be one lakh such examples,” the bench said.
“It is for the Union of India and state governments to take a serious view of the matter and take steps,” said the bench, at which Salve said that they would not do so.
“The only excuse they have is that public servants do important public works. I can understand if it (red beacon light) is given to police officers but to give it to public servant is violation of Constitution,” said Salve. The court was hearing a petition challenging Z-plus security of a Congress MLA from UP.