Illegal Flex Boards/Hoardings/Billboards/Flags: Kerala HC Issues Ultimatum To Local Self Government Institutions [Read Order]
Taking serious note of the blatant violation and non-compliance of its previous orders, the High Court of Kerala has issued a final ultimatum to all local self-government institutions in the state. The new directions issued by the court require urgent action by officers concerned to remove all illegal flex boards/hoardings/billboards/flags within 10 days. The court also stated that failing to do so would be termed as dereliction of duty and appropriate penal measures would be imposed in this regard.
The new directives were necessitated after the State represented by State Attorney Adv K.V.Sohan conceded that there were limitations for the Government in taking further steps in this regard.
Justice Devan Ramachandran, who considered the matter, issued the new directives in the wake of fresh developments in the matter. The court took notice of the fact that illegal flex boards/hoardings/billboards/flags which were removed earlier had resurfaced, with the backing of political fronts and the secretaries concerned were threatened from not removing them under the aegis of the power politics. The court also noted that the earlier machinery empowered to look after the menace has failed due to lack of vigor and commitment.
In the wake of the aforesaid developments, Justice Devan, taking serious note of the issues, issued the following directives:
1) Secretaries of local self-government institutions to remove must illegal flex boards/hoardings/billboards/flags within 10 days;
(2) Costs and penal charges for removing illegal flex boards/hoardings/billboards/flags remaining after 10 days from today's court order to be recovered as a personal liability from secretaries;
(3) District collectors should oversee the above procedure by conducting an inspection and make concerned secretary/field staff responsible;
(4) Secretary of the local self-government institution shall cause/ remove and return the illegal flex boards/hoardings/bill boards /flags to the defaulters. The secretaries shall ensure that the above materials thus collected are not to be deposited in public depository but to be returned to defaulters after imposing appropriate penal measures;
(5) Once the boards are removed, a criminal case/appropriate proceedings be initiated including registering of penal offence or under relevant laws by the concerned Station house officers and charge be laid by concerned S.H.O. against such miscreants/defaulters after due investigation;
(6) The State Police Chief shall ensure necessary directions are issued to all S.H.Os to comply with the above directions and further to afford all necessary protection to the secretaries/field staff to effectively implement the court order. Necessary directions shall also be caused to conduct an investigation in these cases without any fear and favour;
(7) Appointment of nodal officers to be appointed for each district. Deputy Director of Panchayat and regional joint director of urban affairs to act as nodal officers of respective districts. Notification in this regard to be issued within one week from today; and
(8) The nodal officers shall publish their phone numbers, email, WhatsApp numbers so that the public can approach with any complaint or grievance in this regard. Necessary orders in this regard to be passed within 3 days.
The above order of the court shall continue until further orders, the court stated.