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HC directs special drive against illegal hoardings

The Bombay High Court directed civic bodies across Maharashtra to take up from December 5 a special drive to remove illegal hoardings, posters and banners, which should be completed by the Republic Day.

“Making the municipal areas hoarding-free should be the objective of every Corporation or Council and if this happens, it would be an ideal way to celebrate the Republic Day,” said a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Gautam Patel while hearing two public interest litigations.

The PILs, filed by Suswaraj Foundation and Bhagwanji Riyani of Janhit Manch, alleged that political workers, NGOs and private organisations put up illegal hoardings, banners and posters all over the state in complete violation of civic rules, defacing private and public properties and spaces.

The judges asked the civic bodies to give wide publicity to the grievance redressal mechanism adopted to remove illegal hoardings such as e-mails, letters, toll-free numbers etc.

The HC also allowed the citizens to file anonymous complaints in this regard, if they wanted to.

The judges directed the civic bodies to introduce a dedicated website where complaints or photographs of such illegal hoardings can be uploaded for necessary action.

Such websites should be on the lines of those websites already introduced by the civic bodies for complaints about potholes on streets and roads across the state, the judges said.

The bench further asked the heads of the municipal bodies to act promptly on complaints of court commissioners appointed to remove illegal hoardings. Such complaints should be dealt within a week, the Judges said adding that response should be given to these issues within 72 hours.

The bench issued notices to BJP state president Ashish Shelar and other political leaders asking them to show cause on January 8 why contempt action should not be initiated against them for violating High Court orders on putting up illegal hoardings.

The allegations against them were that illegal hoardings on public roads had displayed their photographs.

The HC noted that three parties– BJP, MNS and NCP– had come forward before it to give their response to the issue of illegal posters.

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