Why are political parties allowed to erect flag masts in public spaces without permission? Kerala High Court

" If an ordinary man does the same, there will be all kinds of cases registered against him and that person will be dragged to ruin," Justice Devan Ramachandran observed.
Why are political parties allowed to erect flag masts in public spaces without permission? Kerala High Court
Justice Devan Ramachandran, Kerala high court

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday pulled up the State government for allowing political parties and political entities to put up flag masts in public areas without obtaining the requisite permission (The Manam Sugar Mills Co-operative Ltd. v. Deputy Superintendent of Police)

Justice Devan Ramachandran issued notice to the State government seeking its response on why flag masts put up by political entities should not be removed, especially if they are put up in public areas or 'poramboke' land.

"The one question that crosses the mind of this court is as to how any entity is allowed to put up flag masts on public roads or road poramboke because this certainly would be a violation of the (Kerala) Land Conservancy Act. I am constrained to pose this question because such flag masts and installations are very ubiquitous all over the State and various entities of several hues and colours appear to be installing it as if they require no permission for doing so," the Court said in its order.

The Court noted that such flag masts are being put wherever those with political allegiances chose to place them and reiterated that the authorities must provide answers on the issue.

"Such flag masts are seen in almost every junction in the State, wherever there are stands allotted for public utility vehicles and also wherever entities having political and other influence choose to place them," the Court said

To drive home the point regarding the negative impact of allowing this practice to continue on the community at large, Justice Ramachandran orally remarked,

"Here, if someone puts up a post on the roadside, then there’s political allegiance on it. If someone asks them to shift it to another place, there are fights saying someone removed a flag from the post, all of which leads to communal disharmony in this country. They put flag posts wherever they want to, across the country. If an ordinary man does the same, there will be all kinds of cases registered against him and that person will be dragged to ruin."

The Court issued the order on a petition filed by a property owner who approached the Court through Advocate RT Pradeep seeking police protection to remove flag posts that were allegedly put up on his property by political parties.

However , Government Pleader EC Bineesh submitted that the said flag masts are not on the property of the petitioner but rather on a road poramboke.

The Court opined that whether the installation is on a private property or otherwise is irrelevant if it has been made without following due procedure.

It therefore, suo motu impleaded the Secretary, Local Self Government Institutions as a party to the case and sought his response.

Before the hearing concluded, the Court reiterated that the larger issue of such installations at other places must also obtain the attention of the competent authorities.

The matter will be taken up next on November 1, 2021

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