Either BBMP is casual or utterly negligent: Karnataka HC on election hoardings

The High Court of Karnataka granted two more weeks to the Bengaluru civic body — Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) — to file a comprehensive response to the question of illegal election hoardings in city and warned that there won’t be any further extension of time.

The BBMP filed a memo before the court claiming that since the HC order on August 2, 2023, it had registered 327 fresh cases under the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act.

“It is further submitted that the memo dated 23.08.2023 has been issued by the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City to all the Divisional DCPs, ACPs and jurisdictional police inspectors of the Bengaluru City to comply with the KOPD Act strictly,” the memo dated September 12 submitted to the court on Tuesday stated.

The court, however, said the counsel for the petitioner in the public interest litigation, G R Mohan was “justified in making submission before this court that growth of such hoardings leads to create an impression in the minds of the general public that either the authorities of the corporation are casual in their duties or for the reasons best known to them they are showing utter negligence to their duties. And in both these situations the suffer is the public at large in general and the citizens of Bengaluru city in particular.”

In the annexure to the memo, the BBMP has said 701 cases have been registered under the KOPD Act till August 30 this year. In comparison, a total of 76 cases were registered in 2022, 19 in 2021 and 120 in 2020. Of the 701 cases in the current year, 164 have resulted in conviction, 17 in disposal and 132 are pending trial. In the month of August alone, 327 cases have been registered under the KOPD Act.

The court granted the BBMP two weeks to file a comprehensive report.

“We hope and trust that the corporation would take serious note of these observations and will file a proper, detailed, comprehensive reply/statement of objections/ response, whatever the case may be, in this court within two weeks from today,” the division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit said.

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The counsel for the BBMP sought three weeks while the petitioner’s advocate opposed it on the ground that the civic body was seeking many adjournments but was not taking any action.

The court then clarified that “We further make it clear that the respondent Corporation will have to follow the timeline for filing reply/response/statement of objections and in no case adjournment will be granted for filing response.”

The hearing was adjourned to October 11.

The court in its observation said that “Such mushrooming of election hoardings would not only cause serious disturbance in the free traffic movement but it also results in a lot of inconvenience.” 

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