The streets of Tamil Nadu are often awash with huge bright banners of political leaders. However such banners and posters will soon have to go as the Madras High Court on Tuesday banned the use of "photographs or pictures" of living persons on "banners, flex boards, signboards" across the state.
"If at all any permission is given by the authority concerned for erecting banners, flex boards, signboards, etc, the authority concerned shall ensure that the photographs or pictures of such persons who are alive shall not be depicted by way of those banners, flex boards, signboards etc," the High Court said in its direction to the state chief secretary.
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Justice S Vaidyanathan gave the order in response to a private petition by B Thirulochana Kumari, a resident of Rani Anna Nagar.
Kumari wanted the court to direct the Chennai corporation and the city police commissioner to remove party banners and flags in front of her residence.
According to Kumari's petition, a man who has been identified as Mathi had erected a party flag in front of her property.
When she complained, instead of removing the flag, Mathi and his party's workers allegedly threatened her.
Even the Chennai corporation and the police refused to register her complaint.
Though the flag was taken down, a signboard was put up in the same place, said an Indian Express report.
The petitioner once again approached the Arumbakkam police station but got the same response. Instead, she was warned that a case would be registered against her under the provisions of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
It was only when she approached the high court that the concerned government departments, including the city corporation officials said that they would remove the banners and posters.
The court also went a step ahead and directed the chief secretary to ensure that the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959 were complied with thoughout Tamil Nadu.
"It is further directed to ensure that the photographs or pictures of the persons, who are sponsoring such banners, shall also not be depicted," said Justice Vaidyanathan.
The judge has said that police action will be taken against people who do not follow the rule.
"Whoever objects to such removal of party flag or banner, etc., the name and address of such person shall be furnished to the police, so that the police shall register a case against such person," the judge was quoted as saying by NDTV.