The Madras High Court has held that the display of advertisements and hoardings at the traffic junction is against the guidelines of the Indian Road Congress (IRC) and the policies of Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH). The court has directed the state government to not to give fresh license or renew the license for hanging of advertisements and hoardings in contrary to the above stated guidelines and policies.
The PIL was filed by the Coimbatore Consumer Commission and was heard by Justices M M Sundresh and M Sundar. The Union Ministry has filed a counter statement clarifying that the Ministry vide its circular dated 16 May has stated that no advertisements or hoardings shall be allowed at the national highway other than the informative signs for the public. These signs would include signs of hospitals, bus station or advertisements of temporary nature such as those of a local mela etc.
The Petitioner in its petition has stated that as per the policies of IRC, union ministry and Tamil Nadu local bodies licensing of hoardings and levy of collection of advertisement rules, advertisements are not allowed to be displayed on road but in reality the advertisements are hung also in the middle of road. It was alleged in the PIL that according to the policies and guidelines no advertisement is allowed on road junctions and they have to be allowed to parallel of roadside but that is not the case.
After going through the petition and the counter statement the division bench hearing the matter said that the IRC has come up with the comprehensive guidelines on the roadside advertisements and the said guidelines have been followed by the MoRTH. The bench held that giving permissions to private advertisers to advertise at highways in the Coimbatore district and such act on the part of government is against the IRC guidelines. The bench further stated that the policies of national highway are necessarily applicable to state highways as there can be no difference between the applicability of policies for national and state highways.
The bench however said that the existing advertisements can stay till the expiry of their license period and the ordered the authorities to give fresh license or renew the existing ones as it is contrary to the IRC policies.
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