The Supreme Court Friday told the Tamil Nadu government that defacement of public places cannot be allowed by political parties with advertisements and slogans. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Tamil Nadu government to inform within two weeks about the steps taken regarding prevention of defacement of natural resources like hills, mountains, rocks and public places. "We will not allow the defacement of public places and properties with advertisement and slogans of political parties," the bench, also comprising justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, observed at the outset of the hearing. The apex court had on January 11 issued notice to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on a plea seeking to restrain political parties from erecting digital banners on roadside across the state.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a charitable trust 'In Defence of Environment and Animals' and had asked why the plea should not be kept open, enabling the Madras High Court to monitor the developments in the case. The plea had sought preventing encroachments via religious symbols and political graffiti, advertisements by private parties on natural resources like mountains, hills, hillocks, avenue trees and on national and state highways. The Madras High Court had on December 19 last year issued an interim order restraining political parties from putting up digital banners on roadside unless the state government and local bodies came out with a clear undertaking that the rules and various orders passed by the court would be strictly implemented and no violation would take place.
The court while passing the orders had said such banners distracted the road users, especially two-wheeler riders, and obstructed pedestrians. The high court had expressed its displeasure over the unjustified reasons given by authorities in the past five years for failing to implement court orders regarding unauthorised banners.