The city of Bangalore’s fight against illegal hoardings and posters that block roadsides and neighborhoods seemed to receive a major boost on Thursday from the Karnataka High Court. The HC came down heavily on M Lakshminarayana, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner while hearing a petition related to a dispute over erection of an advertisement hoarding.
The HC bluntly asked the commissioner to make his stand clear on the matter of failing to book criminal cases against those responsible for illegally putting up banners and hoardings.
“Why Bangaloreans will have to tolerate these illegality? When are you going to make the city free from this menace”, Justice A.N. Venugopala Gowda questioned the commissioner. Furthermore, the court observed that most of the illegal advertisements are related to political parties, politicians and their supporters as well as the religious groups.
In a desperate attempt to strengthen his stand, the commissioner told the court that the BBMP had organized a drive between the month of February and June. In the drive, around 28,000 illegal advertisements were scrapped and additionally a fine of INR eight lakh was imposed on the culprits. He further added that a similar drive was conducted in August and subsequently a fine of INR one imposed on the accused.
“Why no criminal cases are filed when such illegal acts are done repeatedly? No point in imposing a mere fine when there is penal provision in law”, the court said. Here, the court made its reference to the provision of the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981. The Act clearly states that those guilty of putting up advertisements without obtaining written permission from the concerned authorities can be imprisoned for up to six months or fined. They are also liable to face both punishments.
On the court’s suggestion for coordination between the BBMP and the city police in putting an end to this menace, the commissioner said that he will submit an action plan after meeting the Commissioner of Police.