Wednesday 17 Jul 2024

HC tightens noose around illegal highway hoardings

THE GOAN NETWORK | JUNE 22, 2024, 12:35 AM IST


The Bombay High Court at Goa has sanctioned authorities to take action against illegal hoardings including those on highways even allowing for criminal prosecution if its respective owners fail to pull it down within the stipulated time. 

The Court has also added a noted builder for placing illuminated hoardings on top of buildings and an event management agency for unauthorized advertisement on electrical poles, as respondents to suo motu writ petition and public interest litigation.

During the hearing on Friday, the Division Bench of Justice M S Karnik and Justice Valmiki Menezes requested Advocate General Devidas Pangam to obtain instructions from the concerned highway authorities on actions proposed against illegal hoardings, after consulting the SP Traffic and other concerned parties.

“…place on record the measures to curb the menace including criminal action against such illegal hoardings put up along the highway. In the meantime, we make it clear that it is open for the authorities to take action against such illegal hoardings,” reads the order while seeking a report by June 28.

Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Saresh Lotlikar informed the Court that numerous unauthorized hoardings regularly appear on temporary movable platforms along National Highway 66 in Goa. 

He sought that the Highway Administration look into the issue and initiate appropriate action against such hoardings which are proliferating. “It is common knowledge that this highway is a very busy one over which thousands of vehicles ply throughout the day. These hoardings, some of which are brightly illuminated, fall directly within the line of sight of vehicles plying on the road which poses grave danger and a direct threat to the safety of those travelling,” he submitted, prompting the Bench to seek AG’s intervention.

Adv Lotlikar further highlighted a large hoarding set up by 'Rajdeep Builders,' which the Court observed prima facie appears to be directly within the line of sight based on provided evidence. 

“Considering the allegations about several such hoardings coming up right on top of the buildings in the name of Rajdeep Builders, we deem it appropriate to implead Rajdeep Builders in this PILWP,” the Court stated. Another company M/s Vinsan Graphics is also issued notice for the violation. 

Meanwhile, the Corporation of City of Panaji submitted to the Bench that out of a total of 64 hoardings identified within the jurisdiction, 41 have already been removed, two filed an appeal before the Secretary Urban Department which are pending adjudication and petitions in connection with five hoardings are pending in this Court. As regards 16 hoardings, one was removed by the owners themselves and five were removed by the CCP on June 20.

The CCP representative stated that they have called upon the owners of the remaining hoardings to pull it down within 48 hours failing which it will take necessary action for the removal.

To this, the Bench said it expects the CCP to take action expeditiously and, in any case, within eight weeks as stated in the affidavit filed during the hearing on Friday.

“It is made clear, that if the owners of the hoardings or those responsible for putting the hoardings fail to remove the hoardings themselves in compliance with the notices, it is open for the CCP to remove the hoardings as stated by them, costs of which shall obviously be recoverable from the owners of the hoardings/those responsible for putting them,” the order stated. 

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