Massive banners and signboards featuring prominent political figures have long been a mainstay of Tamil Nadu’s political culture.
But, in what is likely to put a major crimp on this practice, the Madras High Court, on Tuesday, banned the use of pictures of living persons in all banners, sign-boards, flex boards and so on.
The court delivered this order based on a writ petition filed by a person called B Thirulochana Kumari, who sought the court’s help to remove a signboard and flag that were blocking entrance into her Arumbakkam property.
The HC directed the Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that a clean atmosphere is maintained in public spaces, in accordance with the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959. Even where permission is granted for erecting any banners, flex boards and so on, the court ordered, the photographs or images of any living persons shall not be used on them. The court said that this prohibition will also apply to the people sponsoring the banners or flex boards.
However, while the order mentions banners, flex boards and sign-boards, it is unclear how this will affect the use of posters.
In the case being heard by the court, the petitioner Thirulochana Kumari had said that a person named Mathi had erected the flag and signboard of a political party in front of her property in such a way that it blocked entry to the property. When Thirulochana complained to the Assistant Commissioner of Police about this, the flag and sign-board were initially removed.
However, Mathi then put up another signboard, and also threatened Thirulochana with dire consequences. As no further action was taken regarding the sign-board, Thirulochana had turned to the courts for redressal.
In response to the petition, the police told the court that all banners and party flags will be removed, and such incidents will not be allowed to repeat in residences in the city. The police also assured that court that it would book cases against any persons who object to such banners or signboards being removed.