A strict mandate not to affix posters of election candidates on the walls of public and private property without proper permission with regards to the upcoming Tamil Nadu Urban Local Body Polls was given by the High Court of Madras through the bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy in the case of P. Arumugam v. Tamil Nadu State Election Commissioner & Ors. (W.P.No.3223 of 2022)
The crux of the case is a writ petition was filed by one of the AIADMK candidates in the local body polls, P. Arumugam, alleging that the opponent contestant affixed the poster over the one already affixed by the petitioner candidate. The petitioner, therefore, sought the issuance of directions to the State Election Commissioner and Assistant Returning Officer for additional reinforcement of police force and total coverage throughout the election process. He also submitted photographs to prove the allegations against the opposition candidate. The circular previously issued by Tamil Nadu State Election Commission deprecated the practice of affixing posters on the walls of public/ private property during the election campaign. The circular also indicated that any such disfigurement of property during the election campaign will be ‘curbed with a heavy hand. The circular also directed the returning officers of local bodies to make the candidates/parties to remove any such posters and repaint the walls at their own expense.
The first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy in observed that the court asked the petitioner if he had the proper permission to affix the posters on the said property, the petitioner couldn’t show any proof to that effect. The court also pointed out that the candidates had pasited the posters even on the wall of the office of Ward No.117 of Corporation. Therefore, the court in the order that strict action will be taken against those who disfigure public/ private places by affixing posters as a part of the election campaign without obtaining the requisite permission. The bench stated “It is disheartening to note that in the name of election, the candidates are affixing posters on the walls belonging to public or private property, without appropriate permission, thereby disfiguring the open places of the city. For that purpose, the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission and the Commissioner of Police, Chennai City are directed to ensure the strict compliance of the Act of 1959 and the circular dated 30.11.2021 issued by the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission by not allowing any candidate to affix poster either on the wall belonging to the public or the private property without proper permission and even ensure prosecution of such person for flouting the rules, by registering complaints on the candidates concerned.
We further direct that if anyone is now found affixing posters, by way of CCTV camera placed in the city, they would be prosecuted as per law. The details of such person would be furnished to the Court for initiating contempt proceedings for flouting the direction of the Court. Accordingly, the writ petition is disposed of.”
Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan