The Madras High Court, on 24 October, banned the use of pictures of living persons in all banners, sign-boards, flex boards and so on. This judgement of the High Court is likely to bring about a change in the widespread practice of using massive banners and signboards featuring prominent political figures in Tamil Nadu.
The court delivered this order based on a writ petition filed by a person called B Thirulochana Kumari, who sought the court’s help to remove a signboard and flag that were blocking entrance into her Arumbakkam property.
Thirulochana Kumari had said that a person named Mathi had erected the flag and signboard of a political party in front of her property and that blocked entry to the property. When she complained to the Assistant Commissioner of Police about this in April, the flag and sign-board were initially removed.
But, Mathi put up another signboard, and also threatened Thirulochana with dire consequences if any complaints are lodged, including implication in a case under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The signboard was not removed, and so Thirulochana turned to the courts for redressal.
In response to the petition, the police told the court that all banners and party flags will be removed and that it would prevent similar incidents from occurring in the residential areas of the city. The police also assured that court that it would book cases against any persons who object to such banners or sign boards being removed.
The High Court judgement has directed the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu government to ensure that a clean atmosphere is maintained in public spaces, by the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959.
It added that even in places where it is permissible to put up banners, flex boards and so on, the court ordered, the photographs or images of any living persons shall not be used on them.
The court said that this prohibition would also apply for putting up the photos of persons sponsoring the banners. However, the court order is unclear about posters unlike that of banners, flex boards and sign-boards.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the judgement of the Madras High Court and hopes that concerned authorities would abide by the verdict of the court and help to ensure a clean atmosphere in public spaces.