Delhi, as on date, is replete with posters, spray paints and pamphlets of candidates contesting Delhi University Students Union polls.And it is not just the Delhi University campus, but almost all flyovers, underbridges, pillars, Delhi Metro stations from north to south and east to west that stand defaced.
The Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday were taken by surprise at the extent of defacement caused by DUSU polls contestants and their supporters, and wastage of paper in the entire process.
Aghast at the "distasteful display of ugliness spread across the city at public places like metros, subways, flyovers, overbridges" in the run-up to DUSU polls on Sept. 12, advocate Prashant Manchanda approached the Delhi High Court by way of a PIL.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal issued notices to the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi police and also the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.
The NGT issued contempt notice when advocate Piyush Singh, on behalf of DU law student Nithin Chandran, mentioned how contestants have been violating its 2016 order for paperless canvassing.
Nithin had earlier raised voice against wastage of paper in DUSU poll campaigning.
On Manchanda's PIL, the high court said, "The details of the defacement would show the persons on whose behalf the posters are being pasted and defacement affected. There is, therefore, a warrant as to why appropriate action under the statute should not be taken for such illegal conduct.
"The petitioner complains that even classrooms in the Delhi University and its colleges have been spray painted by persons contesting elections and seeking votes. In view of the above, it is directed that the respondent shall cause physical inspection of different areas of Delhi and file status report on the action taken with regard to the defacement of public property within one week from today," the bench ordered.
"The respondents shall ensure that action be taken forthwith so that no defacement is caused in the future," it added.
Manchanda told the court how the defacement is a violation of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, which say "No candidate shall, nor shall his/her supporters, deface or cause any destruction to any property of the university /college campus, for any purpose whatsoever, without the prior written permission of the college / university authorities. All candidates shall be held jointly and severally liable for any destruction/defacing of any university / college property”.
He reiterated the observation made by a division bench of the Delhi High Court in Anil Bhatia and Ors Vs Govt of NCT of Delhi and Ors that such plastering of walls even on private properties infringes the right to life of citizens.