The Bombay High Court has warned that contempt action will be initiated against municipal bodies in Maharashtra which are not complying with its orders on removal of illegal hoardings from public places.
The warning was given yesterday by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka on a batch of PILs alleging that police and civic authorities were not taking action against political parties for putting up illegal hoardings in public places.
The bench was informed that a politician had put up an illegal hoarding on a wall of a police station located in Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation limits in suburban Mumbai and no action was taken by the authorities to remove it.
Taking a serious view of this development, the bench asked the police station in-charge and municipal ward officer to appear before the HC on the next hearing on March 12.
The HC had recently appointed a committee of 17 lawyers to function as the ‘Commissioners of the Court’ to visit various places in the state to detect illegal posters, banners and hoardings put up political parties.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, appearing for SuSwaraj Foundation, an NGO and one of the petitioners, told the bench that this committee had done a good job to check the menace of illegal hoardings.
He appealed to the bench to extend the tenure of the committee because the HC order on removing illegal hoardings had not been fully complied with, following which the judges adjourned the matter by a week.
The HC had asked the court commissioners to prepare a list of illegal hoardings and inform the civic body concerned immediately so that steps could be initiated to remove them.
The court commissioners were also asked to check whether the municipal body concerned in their area has taken action against such illegal hoardings.
The HC had asked them to submit a report by the end of February 2015 on their exercise to check illegal hoardings. Accordingly, a report was tendered to the HC by the committee.
The PILs have alleged that political parties were putting up hoardings, posters and banners without taking permission, thereby defacing public and private properties.
In August 2014, the HC had ordered appointment of nodal agencies to check this practice and also asked major political parties, including Congress, Shiv Sena, BJP and MNS, to give separate written undertakings assuring that they will not erect hoardings anywhere in the state without permission.