Today's Paper

Anti-Defacement Bill hanging fire

The Anti-Defacement Bill mooted by the State Election Commission has provision to prevent defacing of public places during elections.

The Anti-Defacement Bill mooted by the State Election Commission has provision to prevent defacing of public places during elections.  

The State government is sitting on an Anti-Defacement Bill mooted by the State Election Commission to check vandalising of public places for election campaigning and commercial purposes.

The draft Bill initiated by the commission in 2013 was modelled on the laws that were already in force in West Bengal, Haryana and Goa to check defacement by indiscreetly putting up posters, bills and painting graffiti in government buildings, heritage structures and other public places during campaigning and also for commercial purposes.

The commission had furnished a number of suggestions to add teeth to the Bill and make it an effective tool to check such practices. After vetting by the Law Department, the draft was proposed to be given to Central and State election authorities in the State to be passed on to the Assembly subject committee. But the draft reportedly got entangled in bureaucratic wrangles and continues to remain in cold storage.

The draft was armed with provisions to prevent despoiling of heritage zones, public places, walls of government and educational institutions and also the thoughtless erection of huge arches as part of campaigning, be it during an election or for propaganda for commercial purposes.

The Bill seeks to impose curbs on sticking posters and pictures on signboards, inconveniencing the public and also tourists. The draft mandates prior clearance of the local government concerned for publicity at public places. This would have also been a source of income for the local governments.

As per the draft, if a representative of a candidate or an institution tends to violate the provisions of the Bill, the onus for the breach of law would be on the beneficiary and not on the representative who executes it. The defacement of public places in violation of norms would invite an imprisonment of six months or a fine of Rs.10,000 or both.

The Bill also ensured due protection for enforcing officers so that no one could initiate legal action against them for acting against those violating the law.

Official sources told The Hindu here that the commission had elicited the opinion of all political parties before framing its suggestions to be included in the Bill. But there was no follow-up from the government.

Recommended for you