The Madras High Court on Sunday directed removal of all unauthorised banners erected across the city in connection with the valedictory function of the centenary celebrations of ruling AIADMK founder and late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.
A special bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed officials to ensure penal action against those who put up the banners in violation of rules.
The bench passed the interim order on a public interest litigation by social activist "Traffic" K R Ramasamy, who sought stringent action against all those who erected unauthorised banners and flex boards across the city in view of the grand centenary celebrations being organised by the government Sunday evening.
The petition was taken up for hearing on an urgent basis in the morning as instructed by Chief Justice VK Tahilramani. The petitioner alleged over 1,500 unauthorised banners had been erected across the city and that the authorities have turned a blind eye when the issue was brought to their knowledge.
The government counsel submitted permission was granted to put up over 400 banners. This apart, the government was permitted to erect 50 banners for the celebration. He also said unauthorised banners erected by 'enthusiastic' AIADMK cadres across the city was "promptly" removed by themselves.
The authorities would remove the unauthorised digital banners or hoardings if not already done, he said. If the cantonment authorities raise any objection, the banners located in the area would also be removed.
Recording the submissions, the special bench said that when a statutory provision cast a duty on the Commissioner of Chennai Corporation to remove and confiscate unauthorised banners and hoardings erected in contravention of the statute, the duty had to be discharged in letter and spirit.
The statute does provide for punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or fine up to Rs 10,000 or both.
The bench directed the city corporation commissioner and his subordinates officers to follow the statutory provisions scrupulously and posted the petition to October 10 for reporting compliance.