MUST HC orders removal of all posters posted for local body polls and recovery of costs from candidates

Said violators should also be prosecuted under the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act

Said violators should also be prosecuted under the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act

The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission and Chennai City Police to ensure that no political party or local body election candidate put up any posters on the walls of public or private buildings without prior authorization.

Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy ordered the offenders to be prosecuted under the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act 1955, which carries a maximum jail term one year.

The judges also ordered the removal of posters posted across the city and the recovery of costs from the candidate concerned. They further ordered the police to monitor those who flout court orders through CCTV cameras and report it to the court.

Calling for a compliance report on their orders on February 22, the judges warned that those who violated the orders would also face contempt of court charges apart from the criminal charges that would be brought against them.

The orders were passed on a written petition filed by contestant AIADMK candidate P. Arumugam from ward number 117 (Teynampet) in Chennai. He complained about the authoritarianism of his rival candidate belonging to the DMK since the headquarters of the latter’s party was located in the district.

The petitioner produced photographs to show that the rival candidate’s posters had been put up above the posters posted around the neighborhood soliciting the petitioner’s votes. He alleged that the police were turning a blind eye to the activities of the ruling party candidate.

On the other hand, the judges concluded that the petitioner was also guilty. When the judges wanted to know whether the applicant had obtained authorization from the persons concerned to put up posters or at least a sticker, he was unable to produce such authorization.

Expressing their dismay at the defacement of the city by posters during election campaigns, the judges ordered strict enforcement of the law against the defacement of open places.

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