Illegal Hoardings/Flex Boards: Kerala HC Expresses Anguish Over Authorities Not Implementing Its Orders [Read Order]

Illegal Hoardings/Flex Boards: Kerala HC Expresses Anguish Over Authorities Not Implementing Its Orders [Read Order]

“The distress of this Court is compounded because when the Government and in particular the Chief Minister has made a call to all citizens, including expatriates, to contribute the relief fund to the best that they can, the Authorities are allowing huge revenue loss by not collecting money from the persons/entities for the Flex Boards/Bill Boards/Advertisement Boards placed by them and I fear that this might even persuade citizens to think differently.”

A single bench presided by Justice Devan Ramachandran of the High Court of Kerala has expressed deep anguish and dissatisfaction on the failure of authorities in implementing the earlier order of the court on illegal hoardings/flex boards across the state.

The court hence directed the Chief Secretary of the state, within a period of 3 days, to circulate, by way of e-mail, fax or such other, a copy of its earlier order to the local self-government institutions with a specific directive to implement the same, enabling the common citizen as public mass movement to hold competent authority responsible and liable to end this malady in the greater interest of nation.

The court through Justice Devan had earlier issued guidelines to local self-government institutions to initiate pro-active steps in ensuring removal of such illegal hoardings and flex boards. The court had directed the same to be implemented on a war footing basis, especially taking into account eventualities that had cropped in due to recent floods that affected Kerala.

When the matter was taken up for consideration, the court noted that despite its repeated orders, nothing had been done by the concerned authorities to implement the same which was nothing but mocking the directions issued by the court. The authorities also sought further time to implement the directions, which was not approved by the court.

The court thereupon cautioned the authorities that it was not powerless and further capable of implementing its orders in the strongest possible manner, as is sanctioned in law. The issue required emergent public concern, which should have engaged the attention of the authorities even without formal orders from the court, the judge opined.

Justice Devan noted that due to the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities, the directions of the court had not reached the common citizen effectively. The court hence directed the Chief Secretary of the state, within a period of 3 days, to circulate, by way of e-mail, fax or such other, a copy of its earlier order to the local self government institutions with a specific directive to implement the same, enabling the common citizen as public mass movement to hold competent authority responsible and liable to end this malady in the greater interest of nation.

The court’s order said thus:-“I, therefore, direct the Chief Secretary of the Government of Kerala to immediately and not later than the three days from today, to circulate, by way of e-mail, fax or such other, a copy of this Court’s order dated 18.09.2018 to all the Local Self Government Institutions in Kerala, with a specific directive to comply with the directions therein without fail, so that the common citizen can hold the competent Authority responsible and liable as per law. I certainly hope this will become a public movement and that the intransigence shown by the Authorities to stop this malady will stop in the best interest for this nation.”

The court noted that the rampant increase of these illegal boards, whose disposal involves carcinogenic and toxic materials, would finally fall on the shoulders of the citizens at large. The same cannot be permitted at the behest of a few self-centered/selfish persons’ cause, projecting small achievements for their 15 minutes of fame, the court said.

The court, in the concluding part of the order, made a specific reference to the salary challenge to rebuild Kerala, called by the government particularly made by the Chief Minister to the relief fund. When the above illegal actions of erecting illegal hoardings/bill boards are permitted by the authorities, causing huge revenue loss, the court expressed fear that the same might even persuade citizens to think differently. Terming such refusal as not merely distressing but perhaps bordering on criminal, the court asked the Principal Secretary, Local Self Government Institutions why such loss had been permitted despite orders from this court.

Justice Devan Ramachandran remarked:-“The distress of this Court is compounded because when the Government and in particular the Chief Minister has made a call to all citizens, including expatriates, to contribute the relief fund to the best that they can, the Authorities are allowing huge revenue loss by not collecting money from the persons/entities for the Flex Boards/Bill Boards/Advertisement Boards placed by them and I fear that this might even persuade citizens to think differently. The refusal of the Authorities to collect the advertisement tariff or penalty from these individuals and entities is not merely distressing but perhaps bordering on being criminal and the Principal Secretary, Local Self Government Institution Department will inform this Court why such revenue loss has been permitted, in spite of the orders from this Court.”     

The matter has been next directed to be posted on Tuesday (October 9) on which date the progress of the action taken by Secretary, Local Self Government Institution Department, shall be appraised before the court.  

Read the Order Here