April 04 2020
Flouting of flex board norms irks Madras HC Chief Justice
26 June 2018

The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Indira Banerjee on Monday expressed displeasure over ruling AIADMK functionaries violating court orders right under her nose by erecting flex boards and other publicity materials on pavements in such a way that they completely blocked pedestrian movement.

She broached the subject immediately after occupying the dais in Court Hall No. 1 on Monday and asked Advocate General Vijay Narayan how party cadre were allowed to erect low-rise flex boards across pavements though the court had banned such a practice.

Referring to a detailed order passed by a Division Bench led by her on November 30, she said: “There is an order of this court regarding putting up of display boards and hoardings. It has been made clear that they should not obstruct pedestrian movement.”

“However, practically, right under my nose, it is being violated. When I came to the court now [from the official residence at Greenways Road], I found boards of the ruling party blocking pavements. They were on Santhome High Road,” she told the AG, who promised to address the issue.

A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice and Justice M. Sundar had laid down elaborate norms for the erection of publicity materials on public roads while disposing of a public interest litigation petition filed by DMK MLA N. Karthik of Singanallur Assembly constituency last year.

The Coimbatore incident

The PIL was filed pursuant to the death of a 32-year-old software engineer K. Ragupathy on November 25 when he attempted to avoid a makeshift arch erected at the CMC junction on Avinashi Road near Peelamedu in Coimbatore. The arch had been erected in view of the centenary celebrations of former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran.

Then, the Bench had ordered that no poles or frames or structures for arches, boards, placards, hoardings, display boards or banners should be erected on any highway, public road, public passage, pedestrian pathway or pavement. Holes caused on pavements and roads due to such publicity materials should be repaired forthwith.

It was nevertheless made clear that the order would not prevent the civic authorities from granting permission to erect display boards, hoardings, placards and banners which do not abut into or obstruct pavements or pedestrian pathways. It was also stated that the publicity materials could be installed parallel to the pavements.

Subsequently in March this year, the Chief Justice took suo motu notice of a letter written to her by activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy and came down heavily on the police as well as the Greater Chennai corporation officials for having turned a blind eye to installation of flex boards illegally across the city.

“Perhaps the stretch from Greenways Road to the High Court is the only place in the city that is kept clear of flex boards, and everywhere else there are violations,” she had said then. Ironically, within four months since then, Ms. Justice Banerjee complained of even that stretch not having been spared by illegal flex boards.



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