Mumbai: State asks police to act against illegal banners, defacement

HC rap forces govt to issue directives on implementation of 1995 Act

For the first time since the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, aimed at protecting public places from defacement, came into force in 1995, the Maharashtra government has asked the Mumbai police to be proactive. The state home department recently issued a circular ordering cops to provide force to civic authorities to remove of illegal banners, posters and hoardings.

Illegal banners put up by the MNS at the bridge outside Currey Road railway station. File Pic

The circular comes after the Bombay High Court issued directives early last week while hearing a PIL. Though the HC has asked Mumbai police to appoint DCPs (deputy commissioners of police) as nodal officers to implement the provisions of the act, the state home department has empowered commissioners and chief officers of municipal bodies to oversee removal of illegal hoardings and seek the help of cops only when necessary.

The government circular states that police authorities should provide force whenever needed or requested by the civic bodies to remove, erase, clear posters, banners and other defacement off the walls. The state act empowers the police to register an FIR against people or organisations involved in such an act. Offenders can face a three-month imprisonment or pay a fine of Rs 2,000.

Until now, the police or civic authorities were reluctant to invoke provisions of the act due to political clout. The state home department has also asked civic and rural bodies to ensure that public places are free of defacement in their respective areas.

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