Bombay HC Exasperated At Inaction On Hoardings

Bombay HC Exasperated At Inaction On Hoardings

The Bombay High Court has directed municipal corporations and municipal councils in the state to file affidavits explaining action taken in the last six months, including criminal action, against those who put up illegal banners and hoardings and whose photos are displayed on them.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, November 02, 2023, 09:46 AM IST
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Bombay HC | File photo

The Bombay High Court has directed municipal corporations and municipal councils in the state to file affidavits explaining action taken in the last six months, including criminal action, against those who put up illegal banners and hoardings and whose photos are displayed on them. A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor said it was surprised when the government pleader expressed helplessness and voiced his inability to keep a tab on every illegal banner and hoarding, saying that it should be tackled at local level.

Defacement Act

The submission came when the court was hearing a batch of public interest litigations on the issue of illegal banners, hoardings and posters put up by political parties across the state in public places. The court had on January 30, 2017, directed the state government and all municipal corporations to ensure that illegal hoardings are not put up in public places. The Maharashtra government had even enacted the Defacement Act and the Aurangabad bench had directed authorities to initiate action against those whose names and photos are displayed on the illegal banners and hoardings, Uday Warunjkar, advocate for the petitioners, informed the court.

A government resolution was issued on November 14, 2022, asking civic bodies to identify places where hoardings can be put up; permission should be granted for those places only, state advocate BG Samant said. However, the main problem involves hoarding put up on birthdays and festivals, Samant said.

Court is furious over inaction by authorities

Warunjikar suggested that it should be checked whether FIRs registered in such cases were taken to logical end. “Have you (the state) prosecuted any of the political persons whose face was there on the hoardings? Has any FIR been taken to any logical end? If you don’t take action, then you can’t blame people’s mindset,” said Warunjikar.

The court observed that the city on some occasions gets swamped with illegal banners and hoardings. “Material used in these banners is sometimes too hazardous for health,” the court observed. “We are unable to appreciate such a situation keeping in view the judgment of the court dated January 2017 as also various provisions of the Defacement Act enacted by the state,” the court said.

The bench asked all respondents to file fresh affidavits stating the steps taken by respective civic bodies, “not only to ensure compliance of the 2017 HC judgment but also to implement the provisions of the Defacement Act in its letter and spirit”.

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