Red beacon can only be used by high dignitaries holding constitutional posts while on duty, the Supreme Court ruled today to put an end to its misuse by politicians and bureaucrats flaunting it as a status symbol, saying it is reflective of the “Raj mentality”.

The apex court also banned private individuals from using siren in their vehicles and directed the authorities to take punitive action against those doing so.

A Bench of justices G.S. Singhvi and C. Nagappan said men in uniform, those engaged in emergency duties such as ambulance and fire services, emergency maintenance and police vehicles used as escorts or pilots or for law and order duties will be entitled to use blue, white, multi-coloured lights instead of red beacon.

It said that there has been “abysmal” failure of the authorities to check misuse of red beacons.

“A large number of persons are using red lights on their vehicles for committing crimes in different parts of the country and they do so with impunity because the police officials are mostly scared of checking vehicles with red lights, what to say of imposing fine or penalty,” it said.

It also pulled up the authorities for their failure to prevent misuse of siren for the last 24 years.

“The contemptuous disregard to the prohibition by people in power, holders of public offices, civil servants and even ordinary citizens is again reflective of Raj Mentality and is antithesis of the concept of a Republic,” the Bench said.

According to rules, siren is allowed only in vehicles used as ambulances or for fire fighting or salvage purposes or vehicles used by police officers or operators of construction equipment vehicles or officers of the Motor Vehicles Department in the course of their duty.

The apex court had earlier expressed its displeasure over the rampant misuse of red beacon, saying stringent norms are required to drastically reduce the number of those given this facility.