Lucknow, December 18: In a major setback to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the ruling Samajwadi Party, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court (HC) directed the state government to remove red beacon lights from the official vehicles of all the political leaders of the ruling party within the next two weeks. The Uttar Pradesh government has bestowed the status of Cabinet minister and Minister of State to the over 100 leaders it has appointed as advisers and chairpersons of different government bodies. They receive all the commensurate perks and facilities, including red beacon lights on their official vehicles.
As these are not constitutional posts, the court has also restrained the state government from conferring the status of Cabinet minister and Minister of State on any person with immediate effect.
A High Court bench comprising of Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Ashok Pal Singh issued a notice to the UP government and 61 leaders of the Samajwadi Party directing them to file their counter-affidavits in the next six weeks. The HC also stayed the office memorandum issued during the previous Mayawati regime on 18 July 2007 which allows the state government to grant the status of Cabinet Minister, Minister of State and Deputy Minister to political leaders not elected to the state assembly or the legislative council.
Responding to a petition filed by Sachidanand Gupta, a local journalist, the court declared that that the use of red beacons and sirens – a privilege allowed only to constitutional authorities – is a menace to society and must be stopped. It said that red beacons had become a status symbol and that police personnel, who give security cover to VIPs, should be deployed for better purposes, like making roads safe for women.
The counsel for the petitioner argued that according to the Constitution (91st Amendment) Act 2003, the total number of the ministers, including the Chief Minister, should not exceed 15 percent of the total strength of the state assembly. In case of UP, the number is 60. While there are 57 members in the council of ministers headed by Akhilesh Yadav, the number of leaders conferred with the status of the cabinet minister and minister of state is more than 100.
The Allahabad High Court’s judgment came in wake of the Supreme Court directive to not allow sirens on the vehicles of VIPs and withdraw other such privileges.