Blaming the “political class” for not obeying earlier high court orders regarding illegal posters, banners and hoardings, the Bombay high court on Tuesday said that the time had come for the Election Commission (EC) to step in.
The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed said that the Election Commission of had framed a model code of conduct to ensure, amongst other things, that political parties do not indulge in defacing civic property.
Therefore, it will be necessary for the commissions to consider whether a condition can be imposed on political parties to incorporate a clause in their rules and regulations that promise that public property will not be defaced iin displaying posters, banners or hoardings.
The court was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations on illegal hoardings, especially political ones.
The court also directed the state government to appoint a two-member committee comprising senior officials from the urban development department to monitor the work of removing illegal posters, banners and hoardings.
The local nodal officers — police, civic and revenue officials — have been directed to submit periodic reports to the two senior officers, who in turn will display the information, including name of the political party on the state government website.
Some of the petitioners had also complained about the lack in action against the concerned persons, although such illegal display amounts to criminal offence under the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Public Properties Act, 1995.
Taking note, the bench said that every police station was bound to register an FIR even if it was an oral complaint about illegal posters. It has warned that action will be taken against officers, both for contempt of court and departmental inquiry, will be taken against erring police officials, if they fail or refuse to register an FIR and take prompt action.
Taking note of the fact that at several traffic junctions, sky-signs and advertisements have been displayed in a manner that distracts drivers and pedestrians, the bench directed state to formulate an advertising policy to ensure that sky-signs and advertisements are not displayed in such a way, within three months.