The city of Chennai can soon hope to rid itself of the political party flags put up at every corner, as the Madras High Court has sent notices to the Tamil Nadu government and the Election Commission.
The court was hearing a PIL by A Radhakrishnan of Salem seeking the removal of the flag posts, according to a report in the Times of India. A division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice MV Muralidharan have asked the government and EC to submit their responses within 4 weeks.
In the PIL, the petitioner has accused political parties of encroaching roads, children’s parks and other public places to erect their flags. In some cases, the petition alleged, these activities hinder vehicular movements, creating a nuisance for the people.
The petition also said that the state EC guidelines clearly mandate parties to remove the structures if they have already been erected. It also asked for a complete ban on erecting temporary as well as permanent flag posts on streets and other such public areas.
The election commission had directed revenue officials and the government to remove all flag posts and hoardings erected by political parties, however, no follow up action had taken place on this directive, the petition observed.
The petition also stated that such acts are punishable under Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of damage and loss act), 1992.
Apart from party flags, Tamil Nadu has struggled with the menace of illegal banners and hoardings for a long time now, without much success. In November 2017, the Madras High Court ordered for all illegal hoardings to be removed after a 32-year-old reportedly crashed into an illegal hoarding, ahead of MGR's centenary celebrations, and died.
In February this year, a motorist who was travelling to Conoor sustained a head injury after an illegal banner dedicated to CM Edappadi K Palaniswami fell on him.
Illegal hoardings for superstar Rajinikanth also cropped up along a 6-km stretch on a Maduravoyal main road in March. The hoardings had incited huge protests by activists. Ramaswamy had even visited Maduravoyal to protest against the hoardings. Following this, the actor apologised to the public and asked his fans to not put up hoardings.