During the hearing on an advertising agency's writ petition, Justice Ram Mohan Reddy observed: "You put up lingerie advertisements on 200 x 500 ft hoardings and the driver looking at it smashes his car into a truck."The judge stressed that "There should be no advertisements on highways. Why do you not follow a scientific approach in this regard? On roads where you are travelling at high speeds, hoardings are dangerous. Put them in Bangalore city if you want."
The government counsel told the court that as per the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)'s rules, the companies concerned are supposed to erect the hoardings in such a way that motorists are not able to see them. However, the counsel admitted that there might be some violations.
The judge pointed out that the hoardings have caused so many deaths and in almost every case, the victims's kin received a meagre amount of money as compensation.
"And look at the size of these hoardings. They are 200 x 500 ft. Who has permitted such huge hoardings?" the judge demanded to know, referring to the ones put up beside the road that leads to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA).
The government counsel replied that the Anneshwara Gram Panchayat had given permission for the giant hoardings.
"In the last six weeks, I have had the opportunity of travelling on the road four times, and each time, I noticed that there were new hoardings. I have counted them and the numbers increased each time," the judge said.
He wondered whether gram panchayats can permit companies to put up advertisement hoardings. "How many of these hoardings are owned by politicians, their sons and grandchildren," he asked.
The judge ordered the Panchayat Raj secretary to enquire how many advertisement hoardings have been erected beside the road leading to BIA and if the gram panchayats had granted permission for all of them. The report must be submitted by Dec 5, the court said.
Though the government counsel appealed for more time, the judge noted: "There is nothing wrong with the time. After all, he (the Panchayat Raj secretary) will be travelling in an air-conditioned car."
The court directed the Anneshwara Gram Panchayat not to permit a single hoarding till a final decision is taken on the advertising agency's writ petition.
The agency had filed the petition against the panchayat and the state government, alleging that other agencies were allowed to put up hoardings but it was not given permission for the same.