Cutouts and banners have resulted in accidents and such materials cannot be put up without the permission of local bodies. The ones already put up have to be brought down as expeditiously, said the bench.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed the order on a plea moved by DMK’s organising Secretary RS Bharathi.
Senior Counsel P Wilson appearing for the DMK submitted that in contravention of the rules digital banners were being installed in ration shops and outside it to make it seem as if the party in power is providing the gift hampers and submitted a video to establish the same.
While Advocate General Vijay Narayan pointed out that this being an election year even opposition parties are coming up with posters and leaflets claiming credit for providing such Pongal hampers, the bench pointed out that Government and political parties should not be mixed.
Also, in response to A-Gs submission that in an election year the political parties are outwitting each other in placing such banners to communicate to the people about their achievement, the bench wondered as to whether it was communication or miscommunication. To this, the AG submitted that it was for the people to decide.
However, the A-G also submitted that as during the past three years the bag in which the gift items are being given bears the image of the former Chief Minister as well as the present Chief Minister and that should not be interfered with, the bench said “At this stage it may not be possible for the bags to be replaced. Apart from what appears on the bag no other material indicating any political party or leader should be made available to the recipients and no political advertisement of display within ration shops or precincts.”
“Cut outs and the likes have resulted in accidents and such materials cannot be put up without the permission of local bodies. The ones already put up have to be brought down as expeditiously as possible and the rule in this regard should be implemented uniformly,” the bench added.
While DMK’s counsel pointed out that a complaint has been lodged with the Election Commission of India over the image of the former and present Chief Minister being embossed in the bag, the Chief Justice said “We have not endorsed it. We only said it’s not feasible to change it now.”
It may be noted that the State during the earlier hearing had given an assurance that the tokens issued to all ration cardholders to avail of a gift hamper worth Rs 2,500 from ration shops across the State will not bear any political or individual symbols.