Bombay HC pulls up political parties for hoardings across Maharashtra

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday warned political parties of contempt action for putting up illegal hoardings, posters and banners across Maharashtra.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday warned political parties of contempt action for putting up illegal hoardings, posters and banners across Maharashtra despite an undertaking given by them that they would not do so.

The court was hearing two PILs alleging that political parties, in total disregard to the rules and laws, had put up illegal hoardings and banners all over the state thereby defacing private and public properties in the towns and cities.

Justices Abhay Oka and Gautam Patel said the parties had violated their own undertakings by erecting hoardings and banners without permission of the authorities and despite notices issued to them by the court commissioners appointed to check this practice.

"It is painful to hear that despite assurances such practice continues... We will take stern action against the concerned by passing an order on November 20," the judges said while going through the reports submitted by various commissioners appointed by the high court to stop this.

Adjourning the matter until then, the bench said it was inclined to issue contempt notices to various political parties and municipal bodies which had failed to remove illegal hoardings, banners and posters.

One petition was filed by Bhagwanji Riyani of Janhit Manch and the other by SuSwaraj Foundation.

Earlier, NCP, Congress, Shiv Sena and MNS had filed separate undertakings in affidavits to the high court assuring that their workers would not put up such illegal hoardings, posters and banners.

In response to high court orders, the political parties had even issued advertisements in local newspapers asking their party workers to refrain from putting up posters without permission of authorities.

Riyani argued today that several political parties had put up illegal hoardings and banners all over Mumbai on the occasion of Chaat puja, thereby defying the earlier orders of the high court.

He pleaded that contempt action should be taken against the parties concerned and guilty officers of municipal bodies who failed to check this illegal act.

The petitions claimed that political parties were not taking permission from the local authorities to put up hoardings and banners and thus did not pay the necessary charges.

Moreover, after erecting such illegal banners the parties did not remove them for several months thereby violating laws and rules of the local authorities, the PILs added.

In August last year, while hearing the petitions, the high court had appointed nodal agencies to check illegal hoardings all over the state and asked them to take strict action against the guilty.

The bench also ordered senior police inspectors in Mumbai and officers in-charge of police stations concerned outside the city to provide protection to the municipal team which removes such illegal posters and hoardings.

The court had ordered police protection because municipal bodies complained that workers of political parties beat up their staff whenever they moved in to remove such hoardings.

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