The Supreme Court Friday told the Tamil Nadu government that defacement of public places by political parties with advertisements and slogans cannot be allowed.
The defacement of natural environments like mountains, hills and hillocks by covering them in multi-coloured slogans of parties and their leaders should stop immediately, the court said.
"You (Tamil Nadu government) cannot allow the defacement of the entire environment with political slogans, pictures of politicians. This has to stop now," Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi addressed advocate Yogesh Kanna, for Tamil Nadu.
The Bench, also comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjeev Khanna, directed the State government to revert to the Supreme Court within two weeks on what action it has taken to stop defacement of natural landscape with political party colours, flags, advertisements, billboards, etc.
The order came on the basis of a special leave petition filed by a group, In Defence of Environment and Animals, represented by advocate G. Rajendran, which sought a judicial order to disqualify electoral candidates who do not remove their political advertisements, flags, posts, etc, with “immediate effect” from rock faces, mountains, hills, etc.
The petition has been filed challenging a March 3, 2017 decision of the Madras High Court which, though agreed with the cause of the petitioner, went on to observe that a solution cannot be found overnight due to paucity of “official staff and machinery”.
The petition said the high court observed that it would not be possible for the State to take steps immediately. The cleansing would take some reasonable time.
The petition said the paintings and billboards dot the landscape despite a specific direction from the apex court that natural resources should not be disturbed or defaced by ads, hoardings, graffiti, etc.
Rajendran said the defacement was not restrained to one particular place, but could be seen on bridges, central medians of roads, highways, hills, rocks, etc. “Ninety per cent of the ads are done by political parties. Authority has not taken any action and not come forward to prevent it,” the petition said.
He said neither did the political parties make any appearance in the high court nor had they bothered to file a counter. The high court could have at least issued directions to the respective District Collectors to act or even prevent the disfigurement of the natural landscape.
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