Observing that the State government has prima facie misused the permission granted to put up temporary hoardings to spread awareness on COVID-19, the Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the government to immediately pull down all hoardings containing private advertisements.
The court also directed the government to explain why permission granted to put up around 2,000 temporary hoardings at different locations across the city for COVID-19 awareness campaign should not be withdrawn for prima facie misusing the permission, granted on July 15, by including private advertisements in violation of the condition imposed by the court.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi issued the direction while hearing PIL petitions related to illegal hoardings.
The government had made a specific application in these petitions seeking permission to put up temporary hoardings and had given an undertaking to use hoardings only for creating awareness on COVID-19.
The court’s July 19 order had stated: “…the hoardings, which are displayed pursuant to the permission granted by this court, no person will be allowed to advertise any product or any other item and all the hoardings displayed under the permission granted by the court will contain no other material except the material which is required for spreading awareness and for giving requisite information to the members of the public regarding the measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
However, the hoardings put up by the Health and Family Welfare Department, through an advertisement agency, contained private advertisements on products, the bench noticed from the affidavit and photographs submitted by Mayige Gowda, one of the petitioners.
The bench directed the government to ensure that the Department of Health and Family Welfare not to act further on its letter entrusting an advertisement agency to put up the hoardings on awareness.