Billboards, ad banners banned from road junctions

The Madras High Court has banned installation of advertisement banners within 100 metres of road junctions and directed the removal of those installed in violation as per the policy framed by the Indian Road Congress (IRC) under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) on roadside advertisements.
Billboards, ad banners banned from road junctions
Madras High Court File Photo


A division bench comprising Justice MM Sundresh and Justice M Sundar, while disposing a plea moved by the Coimbatore Consumer Cause in 2016, directed the state to strictly enforce the IRC guidelines which state, “No sign, signal or any other device erected for traffic control, traffic guidance and traffic information shall obscure any other traffic sign. 
Further the signs and signals shall not carry any advertisement.” Holding that MORTH has brought out a policy that no advertisement hoardings are permitted on national highways within the right of way except informatory signs of public interest, the bench said, “What is applicable to the National Highways necessarily has to be applied to state highways as well. 
Therefore, there cannot be any difference in terms of applicability of the policy with respect to the roads maintained by the national or state highways.” However, the bench, on noting that private parties who have already put up advertisements after getting permission can continue till expiry of the licence, directed the state not to either renew the licences or give fresh ones contrary to the guidelines of IRC and the policy being adopted by the MORTH.”   
The ban order comes in the wake of the plea moved by Coimbatore Consumer Cause, which had submitted that as per the IRC guidelines, which were also adopted by the Tamil Nadu Urban Local bodies Licensing of Hoardings and Levy and Collection of Advertisement Tax Rules, 2003, an advertisement should not be permitted within 100 metres of any road junction, within 50m along the road of any sign board erected for regulation of traffic and on boards, placards, cloth banners or sheets hung across a road as they distract the attention of the drivers and therefore, dangerous. But, contrary to the guidelines, advertisement boards on traffic signals are not only hung across the road but also on the middle of the roads. 
Similarly, no advertisements could be permitted within 100 metres of a road junction and that they could be permitted only parallel to the roadside. But most of them are at the junction itself and are placed across the road, the plea said. The plea had sought for a direction to the state to initiate appropriate action to remove all the advertisements at the traffic signals and other devices erected for traffic control, traffic guidance and traffic information within a time frame.

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