By   Rajnish Maniktala

             Advocate

 

It has been seen that the persons occupying important public positions in the Government or the people, who assume themselves as important persons, use the multi-toned horns on their motor vehicles to coerce their way out from the traffic.  This happens, especially after abolition of red lights by the Central Government by repealing the appropriate rule in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules. The use of multi-toned horns not only causes annoyance to the public at large but at the same time also poses hazard to the traffic.  It has been the experience that a number of times the motor vehicles carrying important persons have been involved in major accidents.

The wide spread use of multi-toned horns is surprisingly being resorted to by all those people in power occupying important offices and that too on the face of the fact that the use of such multi-toned horns is not authorized by law.  In order to demonstrate said fact, Rule-119 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 specifically prohibits the use of multi-toned horns/ sirens except in certain categories of vehicles like ambulances, fire fighting vehicles, construction equipment vehicle, etc. Rule-119 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989  is being reproduced below:

  1. Horns.—

(1)      On and after expiry of one year from the date of commencement of the Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 1999, every motor vehicle, agricultural tractor, power tiller and construction equipment vehicle manufactured shall be fitted with an electric horn or other devices conforming to the requirements of IS:1884-1992, specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards for use by the driver of the vehicle and capable of giving audible and sufficient warning of the approach or position of the vehicle:

Provided that on and from 1-1-2003, the horn installation requirements for motor vehicle shall be as per AIS-014 specifications, as may be amended from time to time, till such time as corresponding Bureau of Indian Standards specifications are notified.

(2)     No motor vehicle including agricultural tractor shall be fitted with any multitoned horn giving a succession of different notes or with any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise.

(3)     Nothing contained in sub-rule (2) shall prevent the use on vehicles used as ambulance or for fire-fighting or salvage purposes or on vehicles used by police officers or operators of construction equipment vehicles or officers of Motor Vehicles Department in the course of their duties or on construction equipment vehicles of such sound signals as may be approved by the registering authority in whose jurisdiction such vehicles are kept.”

This question remained the subject matter of a case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in “Abhay Singh Versus State of Uttar Pradesh & Others” reported in (2013) 15 SCC 435. The Apex Court quoted the submission made by the Amicus Currie, Mr. Harish Salve, Senior Advocate in the following terms:

(9)     Shri Harish Salve, learned amicus pointed out that Rule 108(1) imposes total prohibition against showing a red light to the front or light other than red to rear and that exemption envisaged by proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1) is limited to a vehicle carrying “high dignitaries” as specified by the Central Government or the State Governments, from time to time. Shri Salve emphasised that even though the term “high dignitaries” has not been defined in the 1988 Act and the 1989 Rules, keeping in view the Preamble of the Constitution which talks of equality of status and the dignity of individual, that term must be given a restricted interpretation to include only Heads of three wings of the Republic i.e. the President, the Vice-President, the Governors of the States, the Prime Minister, the Chief Ministers, Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Speakers of Legislative Assemblies and Chairmen of Legislative Councils and the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justices of the High Courts. He submitted that while the Central Government has restricted the use of red light with or without flasher on the top front of a vehicle carrying high dignitaries who have been specified in the Notification dated 11-1-2002, as amended by the Notification dated 28-7-2005, and that too while on duty, the State Governments have exercised the rule-making power under Section 110 and allowed the use of red lights with or without flasher by a very large number of public representatives at various levels as also the public servants and made a mockery of the object of proviso (iii) to Rule 108(1).

  1. Shri Salve also referred to Rule 119 of the 1989 Rules and argued that despite total prohibition on the use of multi-toned horns, vehicles used by public servants of different categories are indulging in rampant violation of the prohibition. Shri Salve pointed out that in terms of Rule 119(3), only in the 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 or on construction equipment vehicles, the registering authority can permit use of multi-toned horns, but such horns are being used by public representatives from the lowest to the highest level and civil servants of every possible category and those entrusted with the task of enforcing these provisions contemptuously overlook the violations.

The Court noted that the use of red light and multi-toned horns was the remnant of colonial powers and there could not be any distinction between the citizens of India whether high or low.  While making these observations, the Hon’ble Court quoted the resolution moved by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in a meeting to Constituent Assembly held on 13.12.1944:

  1. The basics of the Indian Republic were outlined in the Resolution moved by Jawahar Lal Nehru in the meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 13-12-1946. The relevant portions of the same are extracted below:

“(1) This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution;

(2)   WHEREIN the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; and

(3) WHEREIN the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the Law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units, together with residuary powers, and exercise all powers and functions of the Government and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and

(4)   WHEREIN all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of the Government, are derived from the people; and

(5)   WHEREIN shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and

(6)   WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and

(7)   WHEREBY shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and

(8)   this ancient land attains its rightful and honoured place in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.

***

I hope, the House will notice that in this Resolution, although we have not used the word ‘democratic’ because we thought it is obvious that the word ‘republic’ contains that word and we did not want to use unnecessary words and redundant words, but we have done something much more than using the word. We have given the content of democracy in this Resolution and not only the content of democracy but the content, if I may say so, of economic democracy in this Resolution.

The Resolution placed before you today has equality as its underlying theme. The different sections of the country have been given autonomy and India as a whole remains one with full sovereignty. We shall stand united in affairs which demand our unity. The one important thing in the Resolution is the recognition of India as a free country. Our country is one and yet we shall give full freedom to its various sections to have for themselves whatever administration they liked. The present division of our country into provinces may change. We shall do justice to all communities and give them full freedom in their social and religious affairs.

***

The word ‘people’ means all the people. I am myself a servant of the farmers. To work with them is my highest glory. The term ‘people’ is comprehensive and contains all the people. It is, therefore, my opinion that no adjective should be attached to it.”

Similarly, the Hon’ble Apex Court also made reference to the speech of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, First President of India, which is being reproduced below:

  1. On 15-8-1947 Dr Rajendra Prasad addressed the Constituent Assembly of India wherein he identified the roles of various sections of the society and the Government. The English translation of the address is reproduced below:

“Let us in this momentous hour of our history, when we are assuming power for the governance of our country, recall in grateful remembrance the services and sacrifices of all those who laboured and suffered for the achievement of the independence we are attaining today. Let us on this historic occasion pay our homage to the maker of our modern history, Mahatma Gandhi, who has inspired and guided us through all these years of trial and travail and who in spite of the weight of years is still working in his own way to complete what is left yet unaccomplished.

Let us gratefully acknowledge that while our achievement is in no small measure due to our own sufferings, and sacrifices, it is also the result of world forces and events and last though not least it is the consummation and fulfilment of the historic traditions and democratic ideals of the British race whose farsighted leaders and statesmen saw the vision and gave the pledges which are being redeemed today. We are happy to have in our midst as a representative of that race Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and his consort who have worked hard and played such an important part in bringing this about during the closing scenes of this drama. The period of domination by Britain over India ends today and our relationship with Britain is henceforward going to rest on a basis of equality, of mutual goodwill and mutual profit.

It is undoubtedly a day of rejoicing. But there is only one thought which mars and detracts from the fullness of this happy event. India, which was made by God and Nature to be one, which culture and tradition and history of millenniums have made one, is divided today and many there are on the other side of the boundary who would much rather be on this side. To them we send a word of cheer and assurance and ask them not to give way to panic or despair but to live with faith and courage in peace with their neighbours and fulfill the duties of loyal citizenship and thus win their rightful place. We send our greetings to the new Dominion which is being established today there and wish it the best luck in its great work of governing that region and making all its citizens happy and prosperous. We feel assured that they all will be treated fairly and justly without any distinction or discrimination. Let us hope and pray that the day will come when even those who have insisted upon and brought about this division will realise India’s essential oneness and we shall be united once again. We must realise however that this can be brought about not by force but by large-heartedness and cooperation and by so managing our affairs on this side as to attract those who have parted. It may appear to be a dream but it is no more fantastic a dream than that of those who wanted a division and may well be realised even sooner than we dare hope for today.

More than a day of rejoicing it is a day of dedication for all of us to build the India of our dreams. Let us turn our eyes away from the past and fix our gaze on the future. We have no quarrel with other nations and countries and let us hope no one will pick a quarrel with us. By history and tradition we are a peaceful people and India wants to be at peace with the world. India’s empire outside her own borders has been of a different kind from all other empires. India’s conquests have been the conquests of spirit which did not impose heavy chains of slavery, whether of iron or of gold, on others but tied other lands and other people to her with the more enduring ties of golden silk—of culture and civilization, of religion and knowledge (gyan). We shall follow that same tradition and shall have no ambition save that of contributing our little mite to the building of peace and freedom in a war-distracted world by holding aloft the banner under which we have marched to victory and placing in a practical manner in the hands of the world the great weapon of non-violence which has achieved this unique result. India has a great part to play. There is something in her life and culture which has enabled her to survive the onslaughts of time and today we witness a new birth full of promise, if only we prove ourselves true to our ideals.

Let us resolve to create conditions in this country when every individual will be free and provided with the wherewithal to develop and rise to his fullest stature, when poverty and squalor and ignorance and ill-health will have vanished, when the distinction between high and low, between rich and poor, will have disappeared, when religion will not only be professed and preached and practised freely but will have become a cementing force for binding man to man and not serve as a disturbing and disrupting force dividing and separating, when untouchability will have been forgotten like an unpleasant night dream, when exploitation of man by man will have ceased, when facilities and special arrangements will have been provided for the adimjatis of India and for all others who are backward, to enable them to catch up to others and when this land will have not only enough food to feed its teeming millions but will once again have become a land flowing with rivers of milk, when men and women will be laughing and working for all they are worth in fields and factories, when every cottage and hamlet will be humming with the sweet music of village handicrafts and maids will be busy with them and singing to their tune—when the sun and the moon will be shining on happy homes and loving faces.

To bring all this about we need all the idealism and sacrifice, all the intelligence and diligence, all the determination and the power of organization that we can muster. We have many parties and groups with differing ideals and ideologies. They are all trying to convert the country to their own ideologies and to mould the Constitution and the administration to suit their own viewpoint. While they have the right to do so, the country and the nation have the right to demand loyalty from them. All must realize that what is needed most today is a great constructive effort—not strife, hard solid work—not argumentation, and let us hope that all will be prepared to make their contribution. We want the peasant to grow more food, we want the workers to produce more goods, we want our industrialists to use their intelligence, tact and resourcefulness for the common good. To all we must assure conditions of decent and healthy life and opportunities for self-improvement and self-realization.

Not only have the people to dedicate themselves to this great task that lies ahead but those who have so far been playing the role of rulers and regulators of the lives of our men and women have to assume the role of servants. Our army has won undying glory in distant lands for its bravery and great fighting qualities. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen have to realise that they now form a national army on whom devolves the duty not only of defending the freedom which we have won but also to help in a constructive way in building up a new life. There is no place in the armed forces of our country which is not open to our people, and what is more they are required to take the highest places as soon as they can so that they may take full charge of our defences. Our public servants in various departments of the Government have to shed their role as rulers and have to become true servants of the people that their compeers are in all free countries. The people and the Government on their side have to give them their trust and assure them conditions of service in keeping with the lives of the people in whose midst they have to live and serve.

We welcome the Indian States which have acceded to India and to their people we offer our hands of comradeship. To the princes and the rulers of the States we say that we have no designs against them. We trust they will follow the example of the King of England and become constitutional rulers. They would do well to take as their model the British monarchical system which has stood the shock of two successive world wars when so many other monarchies in Europe have toppled down.

To Indians settled abroad in British Colonies and elsewhere we send our good wishes and assurance of our abiding interest in their welfare. To our minorities we give the assurance that they will receive fair and just treatment and their rights will be respected and protected.

One of the great tasks which we have in hand is to complete the Constitution under which not only will freedom and liberty be assured to each and all but which will enable us to achieve and attain and enjoy its fulfilment and its fruits. We must accomplish this task as soon as possible so that we may begin to live and work under a Constitution of our own making, of which we may all be proud, and which it may become our pride and privilege to defend and to preserve to the lasting good of our people and for the service of mankind. In framing that Constitution we shall naturally draw upon the experience and knowledge of other countries and nations no less than on our own traditions and surroundings and may have at times to disregard the lines drawn by recent history and lay down new boundary lines not only of Provinces but also of distribution of powers and functions. Our ideal is to have a Constitution that will enable the people’s will to be expressed and enforced and that will not only secure liberty to the individual but also reconcile and make that liberty subservient to the common good.

We have up to now been taking a pledge to achieve freedom and, to undergo all sufferings and sacrifices for it. Time has come when we have to take a pledge of another kind. Let no one imagine that the time for work and sacrifice is gone and the time for enjoying the fruits thereof has come. Let us realize that the demand on our enthusiasm and capacity for unselfish work in the future will be as great as, if not greater than, what it has ever been before. We have, therefore, to dedicate ourselves once again to the great cause that beckons us. The task is great, the times are propitious. Let us pray that we may have the strength, the wisdom and the courage to fulfill it.”

After making reference to the vision of the forefathers of the Nation, the contents of various Constitutional provisions and proceedings of Constituent Assembly, the Court observed as under:

  1. Both the leaders, who were visionaries of the time, laid emphasis on the need for ensuring equality among all, abolition of distinction between high and low, between rich and poor and change of the role of various segments of governance and also the need for protecting the dignity of every individual.
  2. When we achieved Independence in 1947, India was a baby aiming to grow to become one of the respected members of the world community. The leaders of Independence movement undertook an onerous task of framing the Constitution for the country. They studied the Constitutions of various countries and adopted their best provisions for creating an egalitarian society with the aim of ensuring justice—social, economic and political, various types of freedoms, equality of opportunity and of status and ensuring dignity of every individual.

While referring to the provisions contained in Rule-119 of Central Motor Vehicle Rule 1989, the Court observed that there were no provisions in law for use of multi-toned horns and there was blacken failure of the State to prohibit the same. It was observed:

  1. Since the learned Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitor General are in agreement with the learned amicus that the prohibition contained in Rule 119(2) on the use of multi-toned horns giving a succession of different notes or with any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise is absolute with certain exceptions specified in sub-rule (3), the only thing required to be done by the Central and the State Governments is to implement the prohibition in its letter and spirit. Their failure to do so for the last almost 24 years is inexplicable. The contemptuous disregard to the prohibition by the people in power, holders of public offices, the civil servants and even ordinary citizens is again reflective of “Raj mentality” and is antithesis of the concept of a Republic. We feel that the only possible remedy to curb the menace of use of multi-toned horns is to impose exemplary fine on the violators and ensure its rigorous enforcement by the authorities and agencies concerned.

The Court specifically said:

29.5. No motor vehicles except those specified in Rule 119(3) of the 1989 Rules or similar provisions contained in the rules framed by the State Governments or the Administration of the Union Territories shall be fitted with multi-toned horns giving a succession of different notes or with any other sound producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise.

Despite the fact that the use of multi-toned horns was specifically held illegal by the Apex Court but still the cars of all those high dignitaries occupying the public offices use multi-toned horns and sirens. People for Responsible Governance (PeRGo) has sought information under the Right to Information Act, which discloses that the cars of all the Ministers, Private Secretary to the Chief Minister, Officer-on-Special Duty to the Chief Minister, Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretary (Law) and many other pooled vehicles in Himachal Pradesh Secretariat have been fitted with the multi-toned horns/ sirens.  A list of some of such motor-vehicles fitted with the multi-toned horns/ sirens is being given below:

 

Sl. No. Name & Designation Vehicle No.
1.     Jai Ram Thakur

Chief Minister

HP-07: 0003 (Fortuner)
2.     Jai Ram Thakur

Chief Minister

HP-07: 0005 (Skoda)
3.     Jai Ram Thakur

Chief Minister

HP-07: 0009 (Innova)
4.     Office of the Chief Minister HP-07B: 0005 (Innova)
5.     Office of the Chief Minister HP-07A: 0032 (Corolla Altis)
6.     Office of the Chief Minister HP-07B: 0027 (Corolla Altis)
7.     Shri Mohinder Singh

I & PH, Horticulture & Sanik Welfare Minister

HP-07E: 0006 (Fortuner)
8.     Shri Kishan Kapoor,

Food, Civil Supply & Consumer Affairs Minister

HP-07E: 0007 (Camry)
9.     Pool HP-07: 0001 (Camry)
10.         Shri Anil Sharma

Multi-Purpose Projects & Power,

Non-Conventional Energy Sources Minister

HP-07: 0002 (Camry)
11.         Smt. Sarveen Chaudhary

Urban Development, Town & Country Planning, and Housing Minister

HP-07: 0021 (Camry)
12.         Shri Ram Lal Markanda

Agriculture, Triban Development and Information Technology Minister

HP-07A: 0001 (Camry)
13.         Shri Vipin Singh Parmar

Health & Family Welfare, Medical Education, Ayurveda, Science & Technology Minister

HP-07B: 0001 (Camry)
14.         Shri Virender Kanwar

Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries Minister

HP-07A: 0005 (Fortuner)
15.         Shri Vikram Singh

Industries, Labour & Employment, Technical Education, Vocational & Industrial Training Minister

HP-07A: 0071 (Camry)
16.         Shri Govind Singh Thakur

Forst, Transport, Youth Service & Sports Minister

HP-07B: 0016 (Camry)
17.         Shri Rajeev Saizal

Social Justice & Empowerment, Cooperation Minister

HP-07: 0007 (Camry)
18.         Shri Vinay Singh

Pr. P.S. to Chief Minister

HP-07: 0011 (Corola Altis)
19.         Shri Shishu Dharma

OSD to Chief Minister

HP-07B: 0014 (Corola Altis)
20.         Shri V.C. Pharka

Pr. Advisor (RPG)

HP-07: 0067 (Camry)
21.         Shri Vineet Chaudhary

Chief Secretary

HP-07F: 0001 (Camry)
22.         Office of the Chief Secretary HP-07F: 0002 (Innova)
23.         Dr. Srikant Baldi

ACS-cum-Pr. Secretary to Chief Minister

HP-07E: 0036 (Corola Altis)
24.         Smt. Manisha Nanda

ACS

HP-07E: 0027 (Corola Altis)
25.         Shri Sanjay Kundu

ACS to the Chief Minister

HP-07B: 0061 (Corola Altis)
26.         Shri Anil Khachi

ACS

HP-07E: 0015 (Corola Altis)
27.         Shri Ram Subhag Singh

ACS

HP-07E: 0003 (Corola Altis)
28.         Shri Tarun Kapoor

ACS

HP-07E: 0050 (Corola Altis)
29.         Smt. Nisha Singh

ACS

HP-07E: 0018 (Corola Altis)
30.         Shri Sanjay Gupta,

Pr. Secretary

HP-07E: 0001 (Corola Altis)
31.         Shri R.D. Dhiman

Pr. Secretary

HP-07E: 0029 (Corola Altis)
32.         Shri Prabodh Saxena

ACS

HP-07E: 0017 (Corola Altis)
33.         Shri Jagdish C. Sharma

Pr. Secretary

HP-07: 0004 (Corola Altis)
34.         Shri Onkar Chand

Pr. Secretary

HP-07E: 0067 (Corola Altis)
35.         Shri Yashwant Singh Chogal

Secretary (Law)

HP-07: 0019 (Ciaz)
36.         Shri Arun Sharma

Secretary (Education)

HP-07A: 0027 (Ciaz)
37.         Shri R.N. Batta

Secretary (GAD)

HP-07: 0077 (Corola Altis)
38.         Shri Dinesh Malhotra

Secretary (YSS)

HP-07: 0015 (Ciaz)
39.         Shri Akshay Sood

Secretary (Finance)

HP-07A: 0036 (Ciaz)
40.         Shri Amarjeet Singh

Special Secretary (Personnel)

HP-07: 0027 (Etios)
41.         Shri Manoj Tomar

Additional Secretary, GAD, SAD

HP-07: 0022 (Etios)
42.         Shri Rohit Saval

Media Advisor to the Chief Minister

HP-07B: 0047 (Corola Altis)

 

Even though the Apex Court deprecated the practice of using the multi toned horns, terming it as anti people and reflecting the Raj mentality, but still, those high ups flout the law openly. The law enforcement agencies are under their control and they will not dare to challan a minister or an officer in the government. So where does the solution lie? Probably, each one of us has to ask oneself.