Political parties making mockery of order against illegal banners: HC

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said political parties are making a mockery of the judiciary by not following its orders prohibiting putting up of illegal hoardings and banners in the state.

"Since a year we have been passing orders asking political parties not to put up illegal banners and posters. But 90 per cent political parties are not paying heed to this. Nobody is abiding by the orders. They are making a mockery of us," a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi 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. "We have to take strong action, only then this will stop. The moment we find there has been a breach of our orders there will be contempt notice issued," the court said.

Petitioner's lawyer Uday Warunjikar on Thursday informed the court that on February 27, several posters were put up by political parties to celebrate 'Marathi Bhasha Diwas'.

The court was also informed by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) counsel Anil Sakhre that on one occasion in suburban Deonar, when municipal officers had gone to remove illegal hoardings, they were beaten by members of a political party which had put up the banners. He, however, did not name the party. "FIR has also been lodged against unknown persons in the case. The high court had directed for two policemen to escort the municipal team while they remove illegal hoardings, but no such protection is given," he said.

The court directed Deonar police station in-charge and the investigating officer to remain present tomorrow. "This is a serious allegation. This cannot be taken lightly," the high court observed.

Shiv Sena lawyer Vishwajeet Sawant today suggested to the court that anytime a person sees an illegal hoarding, he or she can approach the concerned political party and request them to remove it. "If the political party does not remove it, then the civic body can take action," he said.

The court, however, said, "You think political leaders are not aware that such hoardings are being put up? You think it is so easy for a common man to enter a party's office and complain. Here municipal officers need protection, what will be the plight of a common man then," the court said.

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