SHIMLA------The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, has ordered to treat a petition filed for issuing directions to strictly adhere to the guidelines relating to affixing of advertisement and hoardings within the limits of M.C. Shimla, as Public Interest Litigation.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia, passed these orders on a petition filed by one Shri Anil Kumar. The petitioner has alleged that the respondents namely Chief Secretary, to the Govt. of H.P., Deputy Commissioner, Shimla and MC Shimla, have permitted political parties to install their hoardings in complete violation of Rule 9 of 2007 notification which provides that no advertisement/hoarding shall be allowed in the Heritage Zone especially on the stretches of road i.e. Mall Road starting from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Chhota Shimla including Ridge on the one side upto Regal Building (Lakkar Bazar) and on the other side along Ridge road to Mall via Rani Jhansi Park and U.S. Club road upto U.S Club Gate.
The petitioner has prayed that respondents may be directed to strictly adhere to the guidelines relating to affixing of advertisement hoarding within the limits of M.C. Shimla in compliance of this High Court order dated 27.08.2007. The petitioner has further prayed to initiate contempt proceedings against MC Shimla and Bhartiya Janta Party for willfully violating the orders of the High Court.
During the course of hearing, the court observed that the issues of public importance have been raised in the petition. The court also observed that public interest litigations, should as far as possible, maintain political neutrality. Since one of the political parties has been made a party in the instant case, as respondent No.4, therefore the court ordered to delete the same from the array of respondents. The Court observed that it (court) is more concerned with the public interest, therefore ordered that the petition be treated as Public Interest Litigation. The Court also appointed Sh. Shubam Sood, Advocate, being politically neutral, as amicus curiae.
The Court further observed that there had been large scale defacement of public property. Dr. Monika Bhutungru, S.P. Shimla, who was present in the Court informed the court that three FIRs have been registered in the matter and matter is under investigation. Mr. Ashish Kohli, Commissioner, MC Shimla, also present in the court informed that notices to the violators have been issued and unauthorized hoardings/posters are being removed.
The respondents have been directed to file compliance affidavit/status report alongwith complete details of the action taken under the Himachal Pradesh Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1985, within two weeks. The matter has been listed for 15th June, 2022.