The Madras high court on Thursday allowed the Tamil Nadu and Central governments to erect banners to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping for their informal meet in Chennai next week.
In its interim order, a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee, however, made it clear that the Centre and the state have to follow all existing rules in connection with erection of such banners.
The court had banned hoardings along the road and it recently pulled up the government for not effectively implementing its order following the death of a woman techie.
"This court is of the prima facie view that in terms of section 278 Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act (CCMC), the central government or the state government need not seek license in respect of any place in occupation or under their control or in respect of any property belonging to government for erection of digital banners, placards," the bench said.
The bench, however, said the entities concerned are under obligation to comply with the Chennai City Municipal Act as well as the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies (Permission of Erection of Digital Banners and Placards) Rules, 2011.
It also made it clear that there was no necessity on part of the state government to file an affidavit or undertaking since the court had in December 2018 restrained only political parties from erecting flex boards in public places.
The state government had on Tuesday sought the court's permission to erect banners welcoming Modi and Xi Jinping, who are slated to meet at Mamallapuram, about 50 km from Chennai, for their second informal meet from October 11-13.
The petition filed by commissioner of municipal administration said Modi and Jinping would be holding bilateral talks in the tourist town.
The petitioner had said Modi and Jinping would be holding bilateral talks in the tourist town.
The petitioner said it was customary for the ministry of external affairs to welcome a visiting dignitary by way of banners.
Stating that the state and the central governments proposed to put up the banners at designated places to welcome the top dignitaries, the petitioner asked the court to pass suitable orders on the proposal.
Reacting to the government's move, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan had on Wednesday faulted it for seeking the court's approval to erect banners to welcome Modi and Xi Jinping.
The actor-politician appealed to Modi to 'act as a pioneer' and put an end to the 'banner culture'.
Earlier, the court, while hearing a plea against erection of illegal hoardings, had reprimanded the state government following the death of 23-year-old Subasri.
Taking a tough stand against illegal hoardings, the court wondered, "How many more litres of blood the state government needs to paint the roads with."
Jaygopal, a local level functionary of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, was nabbed by police in connection with the case on September 27 and booked on charges of attempt to commit culpable homicide. He had been evading arrest for two weeks.
The techie was killed after she fell on the road when an illegal hoarding, put up by an AIADMK functionary, collapsed on her and she was run over by a lorry.
The hoarding was put up by Jayagopal for his son's wedding at a hall near Pallikaranai, without obtaining permission from Corporation authorities.
Following outrage over her death, political parties asked their respective cadre to stop erecting hoardings and banners.
In 2017, a 32-year old engineer Raghunath died after he crashed into an illegal hoarding in Coimbatore, put up for the MGR Centenary celebrations.