Asia & Australia

July 14, 2018

Mumbai: Take off illegal hoardings or face contempt of court

Bombay High Court

On July 13, the Bombay High Court warned the chiefs of all the corporations and councils across Maharashtra to ensure strict action is initiated against people, who put up illegal hoardings, during the forthcoming festive season. The court clearly said it would not tolerate any breach of law during this year’s festive season.

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla expressed ‘dissatisfaction’ over the compliance report, submitted before it by the government. The report spelt out the action taken by the various corporations in the state against illegal hoardings in their respective jurisdictions.

“We are not at all satisfied by this report. We can see hardly 10 percent compliance,” Justice Oka said, after perusing the report.

“If this is the situation, we would like to clarify that we would not tolerate any breach of law in this matter. If there is any breach, we will not hesitate to issue contempt notices against the concerned authorities,” Justice Oka added.

The bench was irked over the ‘excuse’ given by the civic bodies of Aurangabad, Jafrabad and Jalna districts. The districts cited ‘staff shortage’ as a reason for not acting against any of the illegal hoardings put up in their areas.

The bench accordingly directed the government to file a fresh affidavit and compliance report on the next date of hearing.

During the course of the hearing, the judges also suggested the representatives of bar associations to volunteer and help the civic bodies to act against illegal hoardings. The bench suggested that bar members from various parts of the state give their names, to advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing the petitioners.

The bench was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) seeking effective implementation of the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1995. The PILs contended that the hoardings put up by political parties and private entities, deface the public properties and thus contravene the provisions of the Act.

It may be noted that a bench headed by Justice Oka had passed a detailed judgement in this matter in 2016, directing all local bodies to act against hoardings, put up without seeking proper permission from the commissioner of the respective corporations.

(Credit: Free Press Journal)

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