How many cases of illegal hoardings are pending for prosecution, the Bombay high court (HC) asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), while hearing a public interest litigation on Thursday.
In an affidavit tendered in the court through counsel T Puranik, the civic body said 209 hoardings were removed till November 25 this year, while there are lower court orders protecting 209 hoardings. Around 707 hoardings in the city have been approved.
The bench was first surprised to hear no fine was imposed on offenders, but was later told by the corporation’s legal consultant, SJ Billimoria, this was done after conviction for the offence in the magistrate’s court. “How many prosecutions are pending? You have to speed up the process of prosecution,” said the division bench of justice Naresh H Patil and justice AP Bhangale.
"How long does prosecution take? And in how many cases fines are imposed? We will then know how section 471 [sanction for prosecution under different sections of the corporation act] is being implemented by you," said the court. "Illegal hoardings cut your revenue, distort the beauty of the city and encroach on the rights of residents of buildings [where they are put up]."
The corporation will have to submit in eight weeks data on pending proceedings in lower courts, appeals against licences denied to hoarding owners and if it is using technology to curb the menace.
The court also suggested the corporation could consider using satellite imagery to monitor illegal hoardings. “You should monitor, if some place was open [space] and now you find activity… It can be curbed with the use of technology. You have to work very hard to maintain civic amenities and keep the city clean," the court said.
* 209: Hoardings were removed till November 25 this year
* 209: Hoardings protected under lower court orders
* 707: Hoardings in the city have been approved by the BMC
Procedure followed by the civic body to grant licences
* Any organisation or individual who seeks to display a banner or a poster has to put in an application with the licence inspector at the local ward office
* The application is then scrutinised by the officials concerned, following which licences are granted after charging a processing fee
* According to the BMC's norms, licences for political hoardings cannot be given for more than five days