Expressing dismay over illegal hoardings that have come up across Maharashtra, including Mumbai, the Bombay High Court (HC) on Thursday issued showcause notices to BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, besides office bearers of three parties (NCP, BJP and MNS), on why contempt should not be initiated against them.
Shelar had given an undertaking on September 29, 2014, as (Mumbai unit) president of BJP. “The advocate of Shelar and BJP are not in a position to offer competent explanation,” said HC. A similar affidavit was filed by Thackeray. “The undertaking by Raj Thackeray states that a circular has been issued to all party units of the party to resist from display of illegal hoardings,” added the court.
Apart from Shelar and Thackeray, the court also issued showcause notice to MNS senior leader Bala Nandgaonkar, Mahahrashtra BJP office bearer Mukund Kulkarni and NCP’s Shivajirao Garje as they had given undertakings to the court that neither they nor any of their party workers would put up any hoarding without permission from authorities.
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Meanwhile, notices will be issued to political parties like Congress, Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party, too, for putting up illegal hoardings. These parties have not given any undertaking before the court till date.
“Prima facie it seems that political parties, which have given solemn undertaking, are indulging in illegality by displaying banners or hoardings without permission,” said Justices A S Oka and A K Gadkari. The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, which had sought removal of all illegal banners and hoardings.
“The real difficulty in preventing illegality is that municipal officers find it difficult to stop this as most of these hoardings or banners are put up on the instance of political parties and party workers. The municipal officers, who are under obligation to remove these illegal hoardings, need to be protected. We find that there is obstruction or resistance by political parties. The municipal officers are free to apply to court for it to issue directions in this regard.
The police should also provide protection to these officers,” said HC.
The court also pulled up the state government for putting up illegal hoardings.
“Hoardings at Prabhadevi and Mahalaxmi, which have been put up by the Women and Child Development Department, are shocking. These hoardings do not display any permission and have photos of the CM and others.
The national emblem has also been used, which is a breach of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.