The Bombay High Court on Monday noted that unauthorised hoardings and posters were a recurring problem in Maharashtra and sought the government’s reply on it.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M.S. Karnik was hearing a clutch of public interest litigations (PIL) on the increase in unauthorised and illegal hoardings, banners and posters across the State.
Advocate General (A-G) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed the court that a special drive was conducted and 27,206 hoardings were removed on August 3 and 4 across all Municipal Corporations except Mumbai. He submitted a report that said a fine of ₹7.23 crore had been recovered. He added guidelines and rules had been issued, and police officers and municipal authorities had also been sensitised.
Reading from the report, the A-G said that 686 hoardings were removed from the district councils and a fine of ₹38,000 was collected. In Mumbai, the drive was conducted for ten days from August 3 to 13. Over this period, 1,693 hoardings were removed and 168 First Information Reports (FIR) lodged.
Justice Karnik said, “All these special drives are okay but how do you prevent these [illegal hoardings from] coming up again and again. Rules, guidelines are in place, now execution is required. A huge hoarding was put up last week outside the official residence of the Chief Justice [of Bombay High Court].”
The A-G apologised for it and said continuous monitoring would be required. Advocate Manoj Shirsat, appearing for one of the petitioners, suggested QR codes could be displayed on hoardings and banners, which could be scanned to ascertain if permission had been granted for the hoarding.
The court asked Mr. Kumbhakoni to consider the suggestion and adjourned the hearing to October 13.