The VIP culture of flaunting red beacons on official vehicles will be history from May 1, and there will be absolutely no exceptions, the government announced on Wednesday.
"From May 1, no red beacon will be allowed atop any official vehicle. There will be no exceptions," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here.
Vehicles involved in emergency and relief and rescue work, ambulances and fire service will, however, be allowed to use blue beacons, he said.
This decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had the red beacon of his vehicle removed soon after the cabinet meeting.
"The government is of the considered opinion that beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP culture and have no place in a democratic country," Gadkari said. "They have no relevance whatsoever."
Jaitley said the government will bring about necessary amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, to enforce the decision.
"Rule 108 deals with use of red, white and blue lights on vehicles. Rule 108-1 (III) says the Centre and states can specify dignitaries who can use beacons on their (official) vehicles. It is a central rule and is being abolished from the rule book," Jaitley said.
He said no dignitary anywhere in India will use beacons on vehicles.
"Only defined emergency services will be allowed to use blue beacons with flasher," Jaitley said.
The decision intends to strengthen democratic values in the country, he added.
The decision not to use red beacons by ministers was first taken by the Aam Aadmi Party government after it first came to power in December 2013 and again in February 2015.
This was emulated this year by the Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab and the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh.
Reacting to the development, the Congress said that it welcomes the decision.
Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, “INC welcomes the end of 'Red Beacon culture' in India, a campaign that we launched & implemented in Punjab.”
INC welcomes the end of 'Red Beacon culture' in India, a campaign that we launched & implemented in Punjab. pic.twitter.com/hiRVCxj3YJ— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 19, 2017