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Illegal hoardings and banners across the state are an alarming situation: Bombay HC

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The Bombay High Court questioned the state government why it cannot adopt a policy to ensure political leaders do not put photographs of their faces on illegal hoardings. The bench reiterated it wanted to see the report on non-compliance with court orders regarding illegal hoardings and banners being put up across the state by political parties. The court questioned the state after its counsel submitted that there were difficulties in monitoring illegal hoardings and the government was trying to find alternative ways instead of a complete ban on hoardings or banners, including specific regularised zones for putting them up to curb the menace.

The bench reiterated that it wanted to see the report on the non-compliance of court orders regarding illegal hoardings and banners being put up across the state by political parties. Terming it an “alarming situation”, the bench on June 16 had asked the Maharashtra government to give an independent report within six weeks on steps taken against non-compliance of orders on illegal banners, hoardings, posters, arches and advertisements. The court had also asked the state government, civic bodies and petitioners to suggest what deterrent actions can be taken and directions passed against members of political parties erecting such structures such that it will “nip the menace of illegal hoardings in its bud”.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik has been hearing pleas, including a contempt plea initiated by the High Court on its own, claiming non-compliance with its 2017 orders to pull down illegal hoardings and that political parties are flouting the order every day and defacing public places. On Thursday, Additional Government Pleader Bhupesh V Samant for the state sought more time to file a reply, after which the bench sought to know if there was any improvement or positive changes after the last order and how the government proposed to deal with the issue. Samant responded that instead of totally forbidding hoardings, the government can regularise them only in specific areas similar to parking zones.

When our correspondent spoke with political leaders

Dhananjay Shinde, AAP leader said, “We are only using paid spots for hoardings. Also, we use alternative ways for promotions like social media or media campaigns. We recently also use cards to promote it reduce the cost and not harm anyone. It is illegal and not fair practice to do such a practice. BMC should take action but BMC is also from BJP. After Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis become CM and DY CM there any many posters of them. It should not happen.”

Waris Pathan, National spokesperson from AIMIM said, “If the high court pass to remove all the illegal hoarding but no one follows we have seen birthday, Eid and Diwali poster.”

Bhai Jagtap, Mumbai Congress president, “We should question all the person who is doing this illegally. Everyone should take permission before putting any permission.”

Bala Nandgaonkar, MNS leader said, “Raj Thackeray already is against hoarding because it is destroying Mumbai beauty. But still, everyone is putting the hoardings illegally. Everyone should put the hoardings in a designated place with legal permission.”

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena, MP said, “Supreme Court gave the same order and the high court is saying same but no one is following. Since our democracy, all the party are publishing through this only.”

“Why do not you adopt a policy decision that political leaders do not have to show their faces on banners?” CJ Datta orally remarked. Samant responded that all those who put up hoardings are not from the government or political class and some of them may think that their freedom of speech is being suppressed in a democratic setup.

The court jibed, “Where is the question of right? Is it right for people to have their faces shown on banners/hoardings? They will not be putting it up without the encouragement of leaders. Let at least one leader say we don’t want these hoardings. How can you allow it? Do you mean to say the government is not ready for effective implementation?”

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