MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered removal of all hoardings, banners, posters, wall paintings and other forms of advertisements put up by trade unions of Southern Railway employees in railway stations, carriages and other railway properties within three weeks.
A bench comprising Justices T S Sivagnanam and R Tharani, who passed the order, observed that the railway station premises are for the general public and any structure put up on the same should not hinder the movement of public. Despite the ban imposed on flex boards in public places, the law has not been implemented on Southern Railway premises and properties, the judges noted. This led to disfigurement of railway premises, compound walls and even railway carriages by flex boards and flags featuring trade union leaders, while the railway authorities remain as mere spectators, they added.
"In our view, these self-proclaimed leaders do not have any rights to put up such structures in railway properties. Moreover, granting permission to such activities is also illegal," the judges held and directed the railway authorities to remove all such hoardings, banners, posters, wall paintings, flags from railway premises and properties within three weeks.
They directed the authorities to prosecute the trade union leaders and members, who violate the order, along with those who are featured in the erected structures or posters.
So far as the authorised hoardings in railway properties are concerned, the judges directed the authorities to allow them to remain till the completion of lease period. However, they added that neither the lease period be extended nor permissions granted to fresh hoardings.
The judges gave the directions while allowing a public interest litigation petition filed by one T Prabhakar of Madurai seeking direction to remove unauthorised flex boards, cut-outs and banners on Southern Railway premises in Tamil Nadu. Noting that the nature of Prabhakar's petition is akin to the one filed by one S Krishnan before a division bench of the court, the judges transferred some of the questions asked by judges on Prabhakar's petition to the latter's one.