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Bar polls on April 6: Banners deface Sector-43 court complex

With advocates competing for the largest poster across various blocks of the court complex, the facade appears as a war zone.

punjab Updated: Mar 31, 2018 13:35 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Bar polls,court complex,Sector-43 court complex
Candidates in the fray for different posts of the Bar have put up posters at the district courts complex in Chandigarh on Friday.(Keshav Singh/HT)

It’s election season at the Chandigarh district courts. A look at the court building in Sector 43 reveals that violations during elections are common. The complex is dotted with massive posters of candidates contesting for the bar council elections, scheduled for April 6.

With advocates competing for the largest poster across various blocks of the court complex, the facade appears as a war zone. In a bid to strengthen their campaign, the candidates have displayed posters with their pictures, along with the information of the post they are contesting for, to woo voters.

But, according to the municipal corporation (MC) authorities the posters displayed are illegal and a violation of The Advertisements Regulation Act.

Rajiv Gupta, additional deputy commissioner of MC, said, “We have constituted teams to check defacement at various places and we will make sure this is checked. Strict action against the violators will be taken.”

This comes nearly six months after the Punjab and Haryana high court had expressed its dissatisfaction over the action being taken by the Chandigarh administration against those indulging in defacement of public properties. Police had launched special drives in September last year in the backdrop of 20 cases of defacement registered in the city at that time.

In the backdrop of the Panjab University student elections, UT had told the HC that those who indulged in defacing public property had been booked under Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 2007, which carried a fine of ₹50,000 and/or one-year imprisonment.Several teams were constituted under the leadership of SDM concerned to deal with the menace.

Lawyers, however, as expected, have chosen to defend the move. A woman lawyer requesting anonymity said, “We can’t call it a violation since the posters are put up on the building, which belongs to the bar members and that of the chambers. They haven’t exactly put any posters where the court rooms are included. Also, they haven’t put any tape.”

Returning officer says age-old problem

The returning officer for the elections, Karam Singh, is frustrated over the issue. Having confronted this issue every year during election time, he says his voice goes unheard. Despite having issued two notices in the past one week, the latest being on Wednesday, to refrain from causing damage to the surroundings due to pasting of posters, lawyers feel they are entitled to do this.

Singh added that he had even held a meeting in this regard, however, advocates unanimously came to the consensus that these were their chambers and hence they couldn’t be stopped from hanging posters there.

Lamenting over the large sizes of posters, some as big as 20 X 35 feet, Singh said many of these banners were hung with heavy weights. Use of bamboo sticks, bricks is common to hang posters.As many as three mishaps have already occurred ever since the campaigning started.

While two scooters were damaged, in another case the window pane of a lawyer’s chamber was broken. However, no official complaint was filed since the lawyers solved it amicably among themselves.

Calling it a banner war, Karam Singh said after 2013, this year again has witnessed some of the biggest banners. After one of the candidates failed to appear before him for removing a banner that was hung at the entrance from the parking side, he said he had to go and personally remove the poster.

Who is to check?

Suggesting an amendment in the district bar council elections, the returning officer said if he was given the power, only then could he implement or execute direct action on the violators.

But he added that he had received oral directions from the UT administration last week to keep a check on this act.

First Published: Mar 31, 2018 13:35 IST