The Prime Minister and the President should ask their party workers to refrain from putting up posters, the Bombay high court observed on Tuesday.
“Good things come from higher up,” observed the court while hearing a public interest litigation filed by city-based NGO Janhit Manch seeking removal of hoardings.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Amjad Sayed has directed the commissioner of police to monitor and launch prosecution on receiving information about hoardings or posters from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or any citizen.
This means, any person found violating rules and regulations will be liable to face prosecution.
In reply to a query from the court, Anil Sakhare, counsel for the corporation, said that no sanction was required to prosecute any member of parliament (MP) or minister.
Sakhare told the court that though they have policy on banners, “certain difficulties” crop up when big dignitaries like the President or the Prime Minister visit the city as posters welcoming them are put up right from the airport to Nariman Point and other parts of the city. To this justice Majmudar said: “The President and Prime Minister should say ‘don’t put up my posters’. You think at this level they even bother? People who want to project they are close to them do it.”
Advocates for MP Priya Dutt and MLA Krishna Hegde, two respondents in the PIL, informed the court that they had asked their party workers to refrain from putting up posters on their respective birthdays.
The court said: “We have no doubt in [our] mind that if public opinion is not in favour of hoardings, the political leaders will also follow gesture of respondent 7 [Dutt] and respondent 9 [Hedge]…. In our view, it is for the leader concerned to give appropriate direction to workers to not indulge in such acts.”
The judges said they could not pass mechanical orders in absence of any prohibitory law against posters.
When Sakhare informed the court that 80% of the hoardings were removed, justice Majmudar appreciated the municipal commissioner’s efforts.
An affidavit was filed by Dinkar Kharat, superintendent of licences, giving details of the number of hoardings put up in each ward.
The matter will now come up for hearing on March 18.