The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday made it clear to municipal councils/corporations in Punjab and Haryana that they shall not invite any further tenders for advertisements and hoardings without the clearance of their expert committees as per the site survey conducted under the existing policy.
The court headed by justice Rajive Bhalla also said that without exception, every municipal council/corporation had flouted the state policy and high court directions of not allowing illegal hoardings beside roads and national highways which were distractions and resulted in accidents. The court ordered that in case the policy framed by the state government and the high court directions were not complied with by the next date of hearing, it may initiate disciplinary proceedings against the officials concerned.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, including a contempt petition filed by Gurgaon resident Bhupinder Singh, highlighting violations of rules and HC directions by putting up hoardings and advertisement beside roads and national highways.
"The situation is so grave that the court has to step in and remind the government about its policy to be complied with by its officers," the court said. It added, "Apart from filing affidavits, officers seem to be unconcerned about violation of the policy."
Justice Bhalla also directed the chief secretaries of both states to file their replies as to how to regulate signboards abutting national highways, particularly where land belonged to gram panchayats, since multiple authorities had filed their affidavits in the case differently. During the arguments of the case, the National Highways Authority of India's counsel informed the court that it had not permitted any hoardings, apart from traffic signages, beside roads.
Appearing for some of the private advertisers, senior advocate Chetan Mittal argued that when there was a single state policy on the subject in both states, then why could not the authorities have one centralised expert committee to look into the matter rather than separate committees for every municipal council. He informed the court that the SAS Nagar municipal corporation had recently issued a separate advertisement for consultancy.
The case would now come up for hearing on September 9.