The Bombay high court on Saturday rapped the Mumbai police for refusing to register First Information Reports (FIRs) on the basis of complaints lodged by officers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about the display of illegal banners, posters and hoardings.
BMC counsel Anil Sakhare informed the court that between January 1 and October 8, civic staff removed 12,486 illegal banners and posters. Though civic officials sent 2,855 letters to the police to register FIRs, only 138 were filed.
“This is barely 10% of the complaints lodged,” said a bench of Justice Abay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed. A government pleader told the bench that the remaining FIRs were not been registered as the police did not find illegal posters, banners or hoardings at those spots when they went to verify the claims.
The judges said the police should not have disbelieved civic officials and their refusal to register FIRs was a serious lapse. The court is likely to take cognisance of the matter and issue appropriate directions when it passes a detailed judgment on a bunch of public interest litigations complaining about illegal display of banners, posters and hoardings, especially by political leaders and their followers.
On Saturday, the bench directed civic authorities across Maharashtra to continue the special drive to remove illegal posters and banners, which was undertaken pursuant to earlier court orders.
During the course of hearing, Uday Warunjikar, who represented one of the petitioners, complained about the gross violation of the court orders regarding the display of illegal posters and banners, especially during Ganpati and Navratri. He pointed out that not only political parties, leaders and activists, but even a few major multinational and public companies display illegal posters and banners during these festivals.
The judges said criminal action will have to be initiated against such companies.