Taking a serious view of largescale erection of flag poles of political parties in public places without permission, the Madras High Court on Wednesday said such an act was encroachment and penal action should be taken against the violators.
Passing the order on a PIL seeking a complete ban on erection of flag poles in public places, a bench comprising justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, said encroachment on public property such as roads, streets would lead to congestion of traffic and cause inconvenience to the users. "Erection of poles without permission is an encroachment as per the provisions of the statues," it said.
"It is alarming that as against several thousands of flag poles in the state, only two poles have been erected with permission and other three covered under court orders," it said, adding that nobody had a right to encroach public properties. Referring to a status report filed by all 32 district collectors in Tamil Nadu, the bench said as per the report such encroachments already noticed have been removed.
The local bodies, government and the highways department were duty-bound to initiate action against the encroachments and take measures to prevent such unauthorised acts, it said. "There shall be no flag poles with or without construction on any street, road, state or national highways as the case may be without permission of the authorities," the bench said.
Statutory provisions provided for penal action and steps to recover damage caused to roads and other public places, it said and directed authorities to issue necessary instructions to all subordinate officers for strict compliance of its order and arrange for police assistance wherever necessary. It said temporary poles erected during functions held by political parties and other organisations lead to damage of roads and pavements which were repaired after a considerable time, resulting in loss to the exchequer.
Referring to submission of the Election Commission's counsel in the previous hearing that action was being taken against unauthorised flag poles and hoardings, it said measures taken based on the model code of conduct alone would not serve the purpose. There should be statutory compliance. The court directed the district collectors and competent authorities to monitor enforcement of the orders passed by it periodically once in a month and take stringent action in case of any violation.
Petitioner A Radhakrishnan of Salem had submitted most of the political parties "encroached" upon public places such as roadside, parks and play grounds and erect their flagpoles permanently, causing hindrance. Claiming that there had been clashes due to dispute between rival parties over flag poles, he said using power drilling machines while digging for temporary erection of poles for party conferences and public meetings also damaged underground telecom and power cables.
(With inputs from agencies.)