The Madras High Court is set to reconsider its earlier ban on the use of pictures of living people on banners and hoardings in Tamil Nadu in the wake of the death of 23-year-old techie Subhasri caused by an AIADMK banner near Pallikaranai.
“The issue needs to be reconsidered so that citizens of this State are saved from such unnatural deaths,” the bench said. However, the bench on taking stock of the plea moved by Subhasri’s father directed the registry to tag the matter with a batch of petitions including a contempt petition pending in this regard before a division bench comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice N Seshasayee.
The vacation bench also held “Though we have not lost sight of the fact that the first bench of this court in its order dated December 20, 2017 permitted the inclusion of ‘live person’ in the banner, holding that the statute or Rules do not prohibit such inclusion, the division bench while considering the batch of writ petitions may also consider as to whether till the amendment is made in the statute or rules such inclusion of live person in the banner may be prohibited or not.”
It also sought the division bench to consider whether the authority sanctioning permission for installation of banners can call for furnishing of Aadhaar card details from the printer concerned and the person requesting for erection of banners so that the details of such persons including their photo identity are available in the records for taking action if required for any breach of rules and guidelines.
However, the vacation bench led by Justice S Vaidyanathan refused to offer any opinion on the compensation of Rs 1 crore sought by Subhasri’s father along with the creation of SIT to probe her death. “It is very sad that the petitioner lost his daughter in a tragedy and therefore the persons responsible for erecting the banners had to be dealt in accordance with law. At the same time, we do not want to express any opinion on merits at present in view of pendency of a batch of writ petitions before the co-ordinate bench which is seized of the issues,” the bench said.
It may be noted that the order banning the use of photographs of living persons was passed by Justice Vaidyanathan in October 2017. “If authorities give permission to erect banners, flex boards, and signboards, they shall ensure that the photographs/pictures of such persons who are alive shall not be depicted on them”, he said.
However, the ban was removed by a division bench constituting the then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice R Hemalatha on an appeal filed by the Corporation.