The Himachal Pradesh High Court banned wall writings, pasting of posters, cut-outs, hoarding, banners and political flags on government property and directed the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to ensure strict compliance of the order during the November 9 assembly polls. Use of non-biodegradable material and defacement of permanent and semi-permanent structures was also prohibited, the court said, citing damage to the environment.
A division bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, was hearing a petition filed by Devan Khanna, a local citizen. “They (contesting candidates) don’t even spare parapets on the roadsides, buildings and other places. Painting slogans or pasting posters gives an ugly look and results in defacement of public properties,” Khanna argued.
Calling wall writing a grave concern, the High Court also ordered the political parties to remove the advertisements and hoardings that have already been put up by their supporters and workers in public places. The bench directed the Chief Electoral Officer to immediately issue a circular directing all district election officers and returning officers to strictly enforce the order. The court also directed the police to help the authorities in the enforcement.
“No wall writing, pasting of posters/papers or defacement in any other form, or erecting/displaying of cut-outs, hoardings, banners, flags etc shall be permitted on any government premise,” the bench said, clarifying that the order would also be applicable to government offices and buildings within college campuses.
In the five-page order, the court said wall writing and pasting of posters, be it in permanent or semi-permanent forms, that resulted in defacement was also prohibited at public places and places open to public view. “It shall not be allowed under any circumstances, even with the consent of the owners, except as allowed under the law,” the HC said.
Display of flags, stickers would also not be permitted on commercial vehicles, and permission would be required from the authorities, the order said. However, the court said external modifications of vehicles, including fitting of loudspeakers, and special campaign vehicles would be allowed after taking permission from the state authorities.