12 Nov 2010

Remove unauthorised hoardings: High Court

Holding that there was no right available to a person to demand the opportunity of being treated fairly even in the scenario where the matter pertained to removal of unauthorized hoardings put up by the person on traffic signals or public places, the Andhra Pradesh High Court in a recently reported decision has directed the authorities to ensure that unauthorized hoardings are removed in a timely manner such that unauthorised personnel do not derive monetary advantage of committing wrongly acts. 

The High Court in M/s Stan Power v. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (AIR 2010 NOC 999) inter alia observed as under;
22. All the objections which the petitioner could have put forth before the Commissioner, GHMC have been raised in the present writ petition and, as these contentions have been examined, the petitioner cannot be said to have suffered prejudice on that score.
23. The petitioner cannot take advantage on his own wrong, in installing traffic signals and erecting advertisement hoardings without prior written permission of the Commissioner, GHMC or a written agreement having been entered into with the Corporation, to contend that the traffic signals and advertisement hoardings should not be removed except after putting them on notice and giving them an opportunity of being heard. No prejudice has been caused to the petitioner as a result of respondent nos.1 and 2 not complying with principles of natural justice. Even before this Court, the petitioner has not shown that he had obtained prior written permission of the Commissioner under Section 421(1), or that he had entered into a written agreement with the Corporation under Section 124 of the GHMC Act. The challenge to the impugned proceedings, on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice, must fail. 
24. In the light of the statutory prescription in Section 124 and Section 421(1) of the G.H.M.C. Act, failure on the part of the petitioner to have either entered into a written agreement with the G.H.M.C, or to have obtain prior permission of the Commissioner, G.H.M.C for erection of advertisement hoardings would require this Court refraining from interfering with the impugned proceedings dated 17.03.2010. Suffice to hold that, in case the petitioner makes a written request to the 1st respondent within one week from today seeking reasonable time, (say a week or two), to remove the advertisement hoardings and the traffic signals installed by them, the first respondent shall consider the said request in accordance with law. It is made clear that in case the petitioner does not make any such request, or in case he fails to remove the advertisement hoardings and the traffic signals within the time, if any, granted by the first respondent, it is open to respondent nos.1 and 2 to proceed further in accordance with law to have the traffic signals dismantled and the advertisement hoardings removed.
25. While the petitioner may not be entitled for the relief sought for, the officials of the GHMC have not acquitted themselves well either. It is disheartening to note that officials of the GHMC, who are required to discharge their statutory functions/duties, as prescribed under the GHMC Act and the Rules made thereunder, have turned a blind eye, and have failed to prevent the petitioner from installing traffic signals and erecting advertisement hoarding without complying with the procedural requirements of the GHMC Act of obtaining written permission of the Commissioner, GHMC under Section 421(1), or entering into an agreement under Section 124 of the GHMC Act. It is, indeed a matter of great concern that, despite absence of a written agreement and prior written permission of the Commissioner, GHMC, the petitioner was not prevented from installing traffic signals, and erecting hoardings, on roads belonging to the GHMC. How the officials concerned remained silent when the petitioner erected the advertisement hoardings on lands vested in the GHMC and had, in fact, encouraged the petitioner to do so by their failure to act with promptitude remains a mystery. While the revenue generated on these advertisement hoardings has benefited the petitioner, the GHMC has suffered a huge loss on that score. It is a sad reflection of the efficiency and conduct of the officials, at various rungs of the GHMC that the petitioner has, all these days, not been prevented from brazenly erecting advertisement hoardings, pocketing the revenues generated therefrom, and thereby depriving the GHMC of advertisement revenues legitimately due to it. Respondent nos.1 and 2 would do well to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

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