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Don’t smile, Mr MLA

mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2010 02:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
mumbai

If you think political hoardings are ugly, this may bring you some relief.

The Bombay High Court has said political leaders whose pictures appear on illegal hoardings or banners can be prosecuted for defacing the city and causing public nuisance.

“…Such posters are published and circulated by the [party] workers at the behest of such political leaders to eulogise them,” the bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice S.S. Shinde said when hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Aurangabad resident, Sunil Jadhav last week.

Jadhav’s PIL had sought action against hoardings in Aurangabad’s Kranti Chowk and the area surrounding the city municipal headquarters.

The judges said there ought to be presumption of abetment [on the part of a politician] in allowing one’s photograph to be advertised on the eve of a birthday or to celebrate some success or before arriving in the city. “Unless this view is taken, the damage caused on account of reckless display of a large number of posters, banners and hoardings throughout the city will continue unabated,” the court said.

The judges said if leaders figuring on hoardings were prosecuted, every politician will ensure that his supporters and party workers refrain from putting up illegal hoardings, posters or banners. “It’s a welcome decision,” said activist Aftab Siddiqui, who recently identified 53 illegal hoardings on SV Road in Bandra. “Now, no politician will want to be associated with such hoardings and this could also lead to a drop in the increased in the number of such hoardings.”

Concerned by the growing clutter of hoardings defacing Mumbai’s cityscape, the municipal corporation had removed all illegal political hoardings before the 2009 elections.

The high court said present legislations were enough to take care of the increasing menace of illegal hoardings. Certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1995, and provisions in the Indian Penal Code can cover illegal hoardings and allow the offender to be sentenced or penalised. The court said since Aurangabad is a popular historical place and tourism destination, it was imperative to have a zero-tolerance approach regarding the display of illegal hoardings.