The Madras High Court on Tuesday banned the use of pictures of living persons on banners, posters and hoardings across Tamil Nadu. The court asked the state government to ensure that “photos or pictures of such persons who are alive shall not be depicted by way of those banners, flex boards, sign-boards.”

The order was passed by Justice S. Vaidyanathan while hearing a case filed by B. Thirulochana Kumari, a resident of Arumbakkam, who was seeking a direction to the Corporation Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police to remove a political party’s name board, banner and flag mast erected in front of her house, reports New Indian Express.

What the court order said?

The court asked the state’s Chief Secretary to ensure that there were “no unnecessary drawings” on buildings and residential places in all wards of the southern state.

  • “In order to maintain a clean atmosphere in the entire State and to avoid unnecessary drawings on walls of buildings/residential places, this court directs the Chief Secretary to ensure that a clean atmosphere is maintained in that regard in the wards of the town panchayat/panchayat union/municipality/corporation etc,” the judge said, reports The Hindu.
  • It added that if permission is given to erect banners, flex boards, sign-boards, etc., the government shall ensure that the ‘photographs/pictures of such persons who are alive are not depicted’
  • It also asked the top official to ensure that the provisions of Tamil Nadu open places (prevention of disfigurement) act, 1959 were amended time time to time.
  • “Whoever objects to such removal of party flag or banner, etc., the name and address of such person shall be furnished to the police, so that the police shall register a case against such person,” the judge said.
b’Madras High Court | Source: WikiCommons’

Why was the order passed?

Thirulochana Kumari had petitioned the court in April that a man named Mathi had put up a party flag in front of her home. When she raised objections, the man threatened. She later went to the police who refused to take her complaint and instead under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989, reports NDTV.

What will the court order mean?

Political parties will not be allowed to use the images of top politicians including Chief Ministers, ministers and party chiefs. Even fans and cine-buffs will also be prohibited to put up the posters and banners of their favourite movie stars. This, in a state like Tamil Nadu that is known for its wall poster culture, is very significant.

Why is the order significant? 

In a state where politicians and film stars enjoy demi-god like status from ardent supporters and fans, such hoardings and posters are very common. There is an unwritten battle between political parties on who would put up the bigger poster of their respective leaders. The same is the case with supporters of movie stars who even go to the extent of bathing the huge cut-out posters with milk to pledge their support. 

Tamil Nadu has a flourishing industry of poster-making which began in the 1960s during legendary actor and former chief minister MGR’s time. These posters wielded a significant influence on the masses, especially those who were from the lower strata of the society   However, the craze has reportedly declined in the recent years as campaigning and marketing have shifted towards the digital platform.

But about advertisements?

 It is unclear how the order will impact billboards and posters which are put up as advertisements. But if it does, it will cause a loss in revenue to the state government. 

(Feature image source: Twitter| BCC_movies)