HC orders end to large banners, cut-outs of living persons in TN

Giant banners and cut-outs of politicians, a familiar sight in Tamil Nadu, may soon be a thing of the past as the Madras High Court has banned the display of photographs and portraits of living persons in public places.

In its direction to the state chief secretary on Tuesday, the court said, ''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.''

This means that images of top politicians, including chief ministers, ministers and party chiefs, will not be allowed in the state where supporters are known to fill up roadsides and colonies with massive hoardings for their leaders.

Justice S Vaidyanathan issued the order while hearing a petition filed by B Thirulochana Kumari, a resident of Rani Anna Nagar, who asked the court to direct the Chennai Corporation and the city Commissioner of Police to remove party banners and flags put up in front of her property.

The petitioner submitted that in April, a person named Mathi put up a party flag in front of her property. When she objected, Kumari was allegedly threatened by party workers. She then approached the Chennai Corporation and the police, but the cops refused to file her complaint.

While the flag post was later removed, a signboard and party flag were put up at the same place. Kumari complained that when she approached the Arumbakkam police station again, she was warned that a case would be registered against her under the provisions of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

During the hearing, however, the concerned government departments, including the city corporation officials, submitted to the court that the banners and flags erected in front of Kumari's property would be removed.

The court then directed the chief secretary to ensure that the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959 were complied with.

''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 court also directed the chief secretary to check "unnecessary drawings on walls" and ensure a clean atmosphere across the state, and to send a circular in this regard to all office-bearers of the wards of the town panchayat, panchayat union, municipality and corporation.

The ban is expected to impact arrangements in Tiruchirapalli, where chief minister E Palaniswami or 'EPS' is set to address the MGR centenary celebration. The venue is crammed with hoardings of EPS and his deputy O Panneerselvam or 'OPS'.

"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 said.