The Kerala High Court fixed responsibility on secretaries of local self-government to prevent the practice of illegal installation of banners by political parties in public places.
The Amicus Curiae Hareesh Vasudevan, reported that merely because the Court has not issued orders for the last few months, unauthorized Boards/Banners/Flags have now come to occupy the public spaces in the State, even though the Road Safety Commissioner has issued an order, banning the placing of the same on any public space, including pedestrian paths, pedestrian railings, medians, traffic Islands etc.
Hareesh Vasudevan further informed the Court that the reason why this menace has not been fully controlled is because advertising agencies are entrusted with the task of installing them, who do so without even being aware of the laws involved, particularly, because some of their workmen are not from Kerala.
The single judge bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran noted that by the orders of the court, the stakeholders, including the Secretaries of the Local Self Government Institutions have been sufficiently warned, including that they will be personally responsible for the cost of the unauthorized installations.
In light of the circumstances, the court issued various directions to the Secretaries of the Local Self Government Institutions that they should immediately begin a drive to remove all the unauthorized Boards/Banners/Flags which are contrary to the directions of the Court and in violation of the order of the Road Safety Commissioner; and return them to the perpetrators without dumping it in the public waste disposal systems, within a period of thirty days.
The court said that every unauthorized Board/Banner/Flag etc. remaining after the afore period as has been already declared by the Court, shall be the personal responsibility of the Secretaries of the Local Self Government Institutions, as also the Field Staff thereof, which will invite necessary action as per law.
The court directed the Advertisement Agencies/Entities that they are not entitled to fix any unauthorized Board/Banner/Flag or such other in violation of the orders of the Court or contrary to the order of the Road Safety Commissioner; and for this purpose they shall make such installations only after they are provided the necessary sanction from the Secretary of the Local Self Government Institutions, and in no other manner.
The court stated that any boards/banners/flags, printed without the details of the Printing Press/ Advertising Agency as described, will be deemed to be illegal, inviting stringent action, including under the Indian Penal Code and the Land Conservancy Act.
The court warned that any violation of the directions will also entail the cancellation of the licenses to the Printing Press/ Advertising Agencies, subject to a proper enquiry being completed.
Citation: W.P.(C)Nos. 22750 of 2018, 25784 of 2018 and 42574 of 2018