KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the local self-government institutions’ (LSGI) secretaries to remove all illegal flex boards, hoardings, banners and flags in public places within 10 days. Justice Devan Ramachandran issued the order after considering a report filed by Amicus Curiae stating that despite several court orders and state government circulars, no system has been put in place to remove illegal flex boards.
The report also said recognised political parties, including the ruling ones, and film entities were among the main culprits. The court pointed out it had issued 10 orders to regulate illegal boards. In each of them, directions were issued to competent authorities including the state to take appropriate steps to curb the menace. The government, on its part, too issued five orders to implement the court’s order. Yet, flex boards continue to come up and are becoming uncontrollable.
Flex: Penalty to be recovered from LSGI sec
The High Court held it would become the responsibility of field staff and secretary of LSGI concerned if unauthorised boards remain after 10 days and the penalty would be recovered from them through personal recovery action. The state government informed it has done everything possible to implement the orders and the secretaries were responsible to ensure no illegal flex boards are placed in public places without permission. The court directed the district collector concerned to conduct an inspection of their territory under him after 10 days and initiate action.
The LSGI secretaries should remove the illegal boards, but should not dispose of the same through the public system. It should return the boards to the persons or entities who erected them. They shall also charge from these entities the applicable tariff and penalty and initiate action for recovery if they failed to pay the amount. A criminal case be charged and registered against under the Indian Penal Code or the Kerala Police Act against each person who erects illegal boards. And the station house officer (SHO) concerned will be responsible for registration and investigation of such cases.
The state police chief should ensure all SHOs are adequately instructed to register a case against the entities or persons who erect boards and investigation shall be conducted without fear or favour. Even though the government has appointed two nodal officers, the experience reveals that they have thoroughly failed to implement the orders.
Hence, the court held a nodal officer for each districts becomes mandatory. The respective deputy director of panchayat and regional joint director of urban affairs to be appointed as a nodal officer will oversee the implementation of the orders. The nodal officers should publish their phone numbers, e-mail addresses and WhatsApp numbers so that any citizen can send information whenever a violation seen by them.