Madras high court has directed the state government not to renew or give fresh licences for advertisements at traffic signals contrary to guidelines of Indian Road Congress (IRC) and policy of Union ministry of road transport and highways.
The court also directed government to grant licences strictly adhering to guidelines of Indian Road Safety Congress. When a PIL filed by Coimbatore Consumer Cause came up for hearing before the division bench of Justices M M Sundresh and M Sundar came up for hearing, the bench said that “a comprehensive policy has been formulated by IRC through guidelines on roadside advertisements. These guidelines are being followed by road transport ministry.
The bench said “it appears that in Coimbatore district permissions have been given to some private advertisement firms to advertise on the traffic signals and in state highways. This is in our considered view is contrary to the guidelines and the policy adopted by Union ministry. 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. The accidents do occur even when permissions are granted for advertisements. This is a stand taken by national highways.”
“However permissions having been granted in favor of advertisement firms by Coimbatore district administration and two years having elapsed with only 11 months more to go in accordance with law, we do not prefer to interfere with it as it would certainly affect their interest. After all these advertisers have put up their advertisements in accordance with law as it was prevailing at the relevant point of time,” the bench said.
In such view of the matter while there is no difficulty in permitting the existing advertisers in permitting to go on with the advertisements till the expiry of the licence issued to them, the authorities concerned are hereby directed not to either renew the licenses or give fresh one being contrary to the guidelines of IRC and the policy being adopted by the Union ministry.
In the petition, Coimbatore Consumer Cause stated that as per IRC guidelines, Central government’s policy, TN urban local bodies licensing of hoardings and levy and collection of advertisement tax rules, the advertisements were not to be permitted on boards, placards, cloth banners or sheets hung across a road. Contrary to the rules advertisement were displayed on traffic signals and within 100 m from the traffic signals.