17 Oct 2022 10:39 AM GMT
Asking the state government to come clean on whether it wants resolution to the issue of putting up of illegal flag posts, boards and banners in Kerala, the High Court on Monday asked the State to not to play a 'hide and seek' game with the court. Observing that the Court had been dealing with the said issue for nearly four years, Justice Devan Ramachandran said:"If the Government feels that...
Asking the state government to come clean on whether it wants resolution to the issue of putting up of illegal flag posts, boards and banners in Kerala, the High Court on Monday asked the State to not to play a 'hide and seek' game with the court.
Observing that the Court had been dealing with the said issue for nearly four years, Justice Devan Ramachandran said:
"If the Government feels that this Court should not proceed further and that matters should be as it was four years ago, then we should eschew claims of creating a new Kerala and be happy with the status quo".
The court added it was powerless as its orders were not being implemented.
"...it would not give me any pleasure to run behind my orders to have them implemented from time to time", Justice Ramachandran observed.
The court even remarked that when it directs that its orders are to be implemented, the judges are criticised and called activists. Such directions are branded as 'judicial activism', it added.
During the hearing today, it was submitted by the Amicus Curiae Harish Vasudevan, that despite repeated orders of the Court, the situation regarding the illegal erection of flagposts and banners, in several parts of Kalamassery and Aluva, has not changed.
The Court took special notice of the violations by the Association of Scrap Dealers and a political party.
It was averred by the Amicus Curiae that no action was taken by the secretaries of the municipal councils on account of the pressure imposed by the violators, who are either politically connected or otherwise influential.
Additional Advocate General Ashok M. Cherian, instructed by the Senior Government Pleader S. Kannan, submitted that the government was aware of the same, but enforcement was often a problem.
The Court observed that if political parties themselves displayed their boards and flags 'with impunity', "others will certainly be persuaded to follow".
"You say this is democracy. It is not democracy to peril another man's life", the Court orally observed.
The Court said the boards and posts raised by the entities along the sidewalks were of danger to the traffic and pedestrians. It however added that the secretaries of local self governments were powerless to remove the same since these were vested in the NHAI and no support was received from the police either.
The Court noted that until present it had been acting with great circumspection, however to no avail. It warned that punitive actions may have to be taken if its orders were to have any meaning.
The secretaries of the Kalamassery Municipality and Aluva Municipality, along with the police officers of the local stations were directed to be present in the Court on 19th October 2022.
The Court found favour with the submissions made by the AAG in this regard that the presence of the police authorities was necessary to tackle the issue.
The Court further directed the AAG to obtain instructions on a distressing piece of information that had been received by it regarding the transfer of a police officer from New Mahe solely due to the reason that he had removed certain boards in compliance with the directions of the Court. The government counsel was directed to inform the Court regarding the same by the next posting date.
The NHAI was also impleaded as a party by the Court in the case. The Deputy Solicitor General, S. Manu and the Standing Counsel Bidan Chandran took notice.
The Court had earlier, pulled up the Government for its failure to implement the directions for removal of illegal flags and banners erected along the highways in the State by various political parties, and had expressed its dismay that the Court was being accused of aligning with certain political parties while passing such orders.
The case has been posted again for 19th October 2022.
Case Title: St. Stephen's Malakara Catholic Church v. State of Kerala