The Madras High Court has directed election officials to remove all unauthorised flag poles of political parties in public places throughout Tamil Nadu by April 1.
A bench comprising justices S Manikumar and Subramanium Prasad gave the direction on Monday, March 25, on public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a complete ban on erection of poles in public places.
Petitioner A Radhakrishnan of Salem submitted that most of the political parties "encroached" upon public places such as roadside, parks, and playgrounds and erect their flagpoles permanently, causing hindrance.
Claiming that there had been clashes due to a dispute between rival political parties over flag poles, he said using power drilling machines while digging for the temporary erection of poles during party conferences, public meetings also damaged underground telecom and power cables.
When the PIL came up for hearing, the Tamil Nadu government counsel submitted that 58,172 flag poles in rural and urban areas had been removed and another 799 were being dismantled.
The petitioner said the Election Commission has issued a direction to the police and revenue officials to remove all such flag poles and hoardings put up by political parties.
Alleging that officials, however, were turning a blind eye to these violations for reasons best known to them, he contended such acts were punishable for offences under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.
Election Commission standing counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan, citing reports from 21 district collectors-cum-district election officers, said the flag poles had been removed in these districts.
Steps were being taken to remove the unauthorised poles in the rest 11 districts in the state, he added. Recording the submissions, the bench posted the matter to April 1 for further hearing