Chennai, Oct 3: The Madras High Court today gave the nod for erecting flex boards and banners welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second Indo-China Summit to be held at Mamallapuram, about 55 km from here, from October 11 to 13.
On a petition filed by the State government seeking permission for erecting banners after the court came down heavily on the officials following the recent death of an young woman techie after an illegal banner erected by an AIADMK functionary fell on her, a Division Bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee gave permission to erect banners from Chennai airport to Mahabalipuram by the Ministry of External Affairs (MoEA) and the State government to welcome the visiting dignatories.
The Bench said there was no need on the part of the State government to have filed an affidavit of undertaking since the court had in December 2018 restrained only political parties from erecting flex boards and banners in public places. Though the ban does not apply to the Centre and the State government, they must comply with all legal procedures before erecting the banners and the safety of the general public, the judges said.
Earlier, Advocate General Vijay Narayan told the court that the affidavit of undertaking was filed only to inform the court before the erection of banners to welcome the foreign dignitary. Commissioner of Municipal Administration K Baskaran had filed the affidavit on behalf of the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Rural Development Secretary and the Director General of Police, and said he had been authorised to do so by the State government.
The affidavit said that the government and local bodies had not given any permission to political parties to erect banners in the State ever since the court on December 19, 2018 passed an interim order disallowing them on a public interest litigation petition filed by Social activist Traffic Ramaswamy.
However, “whenever any head of State visits our country as part of bilateral relations or as a goodwill gesture of reciprocity, it is customary on the part of the External Affairs Ministry to welcome the visiting dignitary by way of welcome banners,” the Commissioner said.
Stating that it was also a matter of courtesy on the part of the State government to welcome the foreign dignitary by erecting banners and flex boards, he said the External Affairs Ministry had proposed to put up flex boards at 14 locations in Chennai, nine on ECR and two in Mamallapuram, the venue of the summit, which was classified as UNESCO World Heritage site.
Similarly, the State government also, through the Directorate of Information and Public Relations, wanted to erect flex boards from Chennai airport to Mamallapuram at five locations in the city, four in Mamallapuram and at seven locations on the Old Mahabalipuram Road and the East Coast Road. Stating that the flex boards would be erected only for five days, between October nine and 13, he said utmost care would be taken to ensure that they were erected only on permanent structures and that safe as well as secure temporary structures would be raised only in the absence of permanent structures. (UNI)