Beating the cutout ban

Hugebanners and outsized cut-outs of politicians, a familiar sight in Tamil Nadu.

Lahoma Bhattacharya

Chennai, Nov 3: The ruling faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(AIDMK) has come up with an unconventional idea to bypass the recent ruling by the Madras High Court which banned posters and flex boards that use photographs of living persons.

Party supporters are known to fill up roadsides and colonies with massive hoardings for their leaders, occupying space in residential areas. In an attempt to offer a solution to the menace of hoardings and signboards dotting the skyline, the court has cited provisions of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959.

The court order stated the need to maintain a clean environment and also ensure that there were “no unnecessary drawings” on buildings and residential places in all wards of the southern state.”

“If at all any permission is given by the authority concerned for erecting banners, flex boards, sign-boards, etc, the authority concerned shall ensure that the photos/pictures of such persons who are alive, shall not be depicted by way of those banners, flex boards, sign boards etc,” Justice S Vaidyanathan said.

Justice S. Vaidyanathan passed the order while disposing of a case filed by B. Thirulochana Kumari, a resident of Arumbakkam, seeking a direction to the Corporation Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police to remove a political party’s name board, banner and flag mast erected in front of her house.

A  banner of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth in Chennai.

The ban prohibits political parties and fans of actors from putting up publicity materials with images of living personalities in public spaces, including flex boards erected by individuals.

Karthav, owner of Flex Printing Chennai in Velachery said “I welcome the decision because it will lead to a cleaner environment and huge cutouts often cause health hazards, injuring commuters.Road accidents are known to occur due to distraction of drivers’ attention due to certain colourful banners and hoardings. However, this ban has consequences for the ones in the printing business, the turnover will fall as political parties have been our loyal customers throughout.”

Many Twitter users welcomed the decision, saying banners and posters in public areas hindered traffic and dirtied the environment. “The verdict passed by Madras High Court has been welcomed by the citizens of Chennai,” says Chennai based senior lawyer Anil Mevani.

The AIADMK members have shown no signs of halting their promotions as balloons with pictures of CM Edappadi Palanisaamy, deputy chief minister O. Paneerselvam and other ministers are floating over Coimbatore.