CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the committee formed by the goverment recently to ensure that there is no defacement of natural resources, walls of government buildings, bridges and other public places.
The first Bench of Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh issued the directive on Thursday while passing further orders on a contempt application following a PIL from Elephant' K Rajendran. The Bench also restrained political parties from defacing public places and it hoped they would conduct themselves responsibly. The matter has been listed on June 13 for compliance.
The five-member panel, headed by the Secretary, Home, Prohibition and Excise department, was constituted by a GO on February 26 last issued by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department for monitoring the progress in rectifying defacement of open places and for implementation of orders of this court.
The Bench noted that the menace of defacement, hoarding, etc. had permeated the State for quite some time. The fact of pendency of this petition for 10 years reflected this. The political parties were also to be blamed.
At various times, directives had been issued by this court seeking to control hoardings and banners, but not very successfully. This had led to a number of contempt proceedings from time to time, the Bench bemoaned and held that this was an appropriate time to regulate this problem.
The courts were facilitated by the impending elections, and folowing the directives of the Election Commission of India, all such hoardings had been removed. This should continue even beyond the polls till the issue was determined by the government, the Bench said and directed that the hoardings and banners and all such materials would not be displayed for the time being till this issue was considered at greater depth later.
The heads of the departments concerned were to be personally responsible for enforcement, the Bench added.
The Additional Advocate-General was to prepare a note on how to control this problem so that the public was not inconvenienced. When roads were laid and pathways provided for pedestrians, there must be concern for the people who were walking. The pavements must be left free of encroachments including large hoardings with metal rods intruding into pedestrian walkway, the Bench said.
The Additional Solicitor-General, who was also assisting in this issue, was also directed by the Bench to suggest some practical solution.