The Bombay High Court has directed BJP leaders Ashish Shelar and Parag Alavani to pay Rs 25,000 each to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in a case related to illegal hoardings. The two leaders, who had been served contempt notices by the court earlier, were also asked to pay an amount in keeping with their status to any trust working for farmers.
The HC has also told 12 other BJP party workers, and Sachin Gunjal of the MNS, to pay Rs 20,000 each to any such trust. The amount of Rs 50,000 to be paid to the BMC will be used by the corporation to remove the illegal hoardings. The court asked Shelar’s lawyer what action the BJP leader had taken against his party workers who had used his photo on hoardings without obtaining his permission for it. The lawyer said their names and addresses had been provided to the court.
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“We want to know if you have initiated any disciplinary action against them. This is a serious illegal act. They have breached the court’s orders. We are interested in what you have done so that other party workers don’t do it,” said Justice A S Oka.
Shelar’s lawyer said while only a warning had been issued to the workers, action could be taken after consulting other party leaders. They could also look at suspending such workers, he said. Justice Oka said he was surprised that there was complete silence on the line of action “considering you have been taken for a ride since your name and photo was used without your knowledge”. “This shows lack of bonafide on your part,” said the judge.
A Bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice C V Bhadang were hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) alleging that political parties, in total disregard to the rules and laws, had put up illegal hoardings and banners all over the state. In compliance with earlier orders, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar and MNS chief Raj Thackeray had given undertakings earlier. But instances of breach of court orders by various political leaders were pointed out. The HC had then observed that political party leaders such as Shelar and other BJP workers had committed willful breach of the court’s order by displaying illegal hoardings and issued contempt notices against them.
Appearing for SuSwaraj Foundation, an NGO and one of the petitioners, advocate Uday Warunjakar suggested Thursday such political party members should be made to carry out social work in drought-affected villages. The court, however, said they could contribute to trusts working for farmers. “What is the cost of installing one hoarding,” asked the court, adding that if they had money to erect banners at all major functions, they would have money for this purpose also. The cheques are supposed to be submitted to the court by next Friday.
The banners bearing names of Shelar and Alavani were put up in Bandra and Ville Parle during Navratri and Ganpati celebrations. All political parties are supposed to submit their undertakings complying with the court’s orders next Friday.
Warunjakar said illegal hoardings put up by the state government had been noticed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus too.