The Bombay High Court on Friday suggested that political parties across the state set up toll free numbers on which people can lodge complaints, if any illegal hoarding, banner or poster by the party or any of its worker is displayed.
The suggestion was made by a division bench of Justices A S Oka and R D Dhanuka after advocate Vishwajeet Sawant, appearing for Shiv Sena, told the court that the party was setting up a toll free number for Mumbai where people can anonymously lodge complaints. "People can call the toll free number 1800228595 from Monday to Saturday. The number will be manned by one Harshad Pradhan who will take down complaints of any illegal hoarding or poster and will initiate appropriate action," Sawant told the court.
Appreciating the step by the Sena, Justice Oka said it would, however, be ideal if arrangements are made to receive complaints even on Sundays and public holidays. "It would also be ideal if all political parties follow this and have their own redressal mechanism in every city across the state. We direct political parties, especially those before us, to respond to this suggestion and file affidavits within a month," the court said.
The court was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations on the issue of illegal banners, hoardings and posters put up by political parties across the state. The court also directed state Director General of Police to issue directions to all police stations in the state to take prompt action, if they receive any complaints from civic body officials.
The order was issued after the court was informed by counsels of various civic bodies that in some instances, police was not cooperating with the municipal officials. The court was informed by prosecutor Geeta Shastri, appearing for the police, that as per HC directions, two armed police constables will accompany the civic body team entrusted with the task of removing illegal hoardings. This is pursuant to an incident where RPI activists obstructed civic body officials from removing illegal hoardings put up by the party in suburban Deonar.
"According to the FIR registered and the report submitted by Deonar police, RPI workers obstructed municipal officers while they were removing hoardings and had also allegedly assaulted them. We direct the police to submit another report before us in a month on progress in the case," the court said.