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Hoardings restricted to Corpn land to ensure safety: Govt

The amendment to the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, permitting hoardings only on land belonging to Municipal Corporation, was brought in for the sake of public safety, said Advocate General Vijay Narayan, who was arguing against pleas challenging it.

Hoardings restricted to Corpn land to ensure safety: Govt
Madras High Court


In the arguments that transpired before the first bench comprising Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad, the AG said issues relating to public safety, which includes causing hindrance to traffic, danger to pedestrians, safety of buildings and aesthetics, were of prime importance and thus were matters of policy decision.

“These are sustainable on a rational basis and therefore, the introduction of the amendment only amounts to limiting the participation by defining the place for setting up of hoardings,” he said, adding that the aim was not to prohibit the petitioners from carrying on their trade and business. The AG further contended that such restrictions being in larger public interest, it cannot be struck down on the plausible arguments advanced by the petitioners.

The petitioners had contended that there were ample protections contained in the Act itself, including penal provisions for the regulation and grant of licence of private persons. “Therefore, when such mandatory provisions with plenary powers are available, there is no justification for clamping a total prohibition on the setting up of hoardings on private land,” the petitioners said. According to them, the justification for bringing about the amendments on the ground of ensuring greater public safety, and to control unregulated and mushrooming of hoardings coupled with an object of generating revenue for the Municipal Corporations, were not cogent reasons. The amendment has only paved way for creating a monopoly and prohibiting any such activity on private land for no valid justification. The legislation reflects manifest arbitrariness as well as being discriminatory, thereby violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India and also interfering with the fundamental rights guaranteed, they argued.

With the arguments remaining inconclusive, the plea has been posted for further hearing to Monday.

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