KHURAIJAM DEBANANDA SINGH Vs. STATE OF MANIPUR
LAWS(MANIP)-2019-9-28
HIGH COURT OF MANIPUR
Decided on September 18,2019

Khuraijam Debananda Singh Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF MANIPUR Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Ramalingam Sudhakar,C.J. - (1.) Heard Ms. Sapna Kh., learned counsel for the petitioner as well as Mrs. Momota Devi Oinam, learned Addl.Advocate General for the State respondents. Also heard Mr.Y.Nirmolchand, learned senior counsel for the respondent No.3 Mr.S.Suresh, learned CGC for the respondent No.4.
(2.) The prayers in the Public Interest Litigation are as follows:- "a) admit the present Public Interest Litigation; (b) issue a writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the Respondents/ Authorities concerned to remove all the advertisement hoardings and structures including any other kind of obstruction that has been erected and installed on the median/middle of the National Highways and also other State Highways in Imphal City Municipal area and also other parts of the State; (c) issue a further writ or order for conducting an Enquiry so as to fix the responsibility of those authorities/persons who has allowed/permitted the installation and erection of advertisement hoardings and structures on the median/middle of the Highways inspite of clear directives and instructions against such installation and also instructions for the removal of the same; and also for doing the same without any open and transparent process; (d) award the cost of the petition to be paid by the Respondents; (e) allow the petitioner to raise more points/grounds at the time of hearing of the petition whether interim or final; (f) pass any other writs, orders or directions as appropriate and favourable to the petitioner and which the Hon'ble Court deems just and fit in the facts and circumstances of the case; IN THE INTERIM (i) Pass an order directing the shutting down of all kinds of advertisement being presently shown on the hoardings and structures installed and erected o n the median/middle of the National Highways particularly within the Imphal City as identified by the Public Works Department (PWD), Manipur as in Annexure A/3 and also in other parts of the State; (ii) Pass another order preventing the advertisement from soliciting further advertisement for advertising on the hoardings and structures installed and erected on the median/middle of the National Highways particularly within the Imphal City and also in other parts of the State, for the ends of justice."
(3.) In this PIL, notice was issued on 23.10.2018 and the following order was passed. " 23.10.2018 Heard Mr.N.Umakanta, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner. Admit Notice." Again, on 21.01.2019, the Court passed the following order as extracted below:- "21.01.2019 CJ As a last chance, time is granted to the State Government to strictly implement with the direction of the Addl. Chief Engineer-II, P.W.D., Manipur which reads as follows :- "GOVERNMENT OF MANIPUR PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT ...... Dated Imphal, the 23rd June, 2018. No.ACE-III/Misc/2018-19/ To, The Municipal Commissioner Imphal Municipal Co-operation, Imphal. Subject: Removal of Advertisement Hoardings on National Highways within the Right of ways. Sir, Please find enclosed herewith letter bearing No.ACE-I/NH/Misc/2017- 18/312 dated 18thSeptember, 2017 on the above subject you are again reminded to remove the hoardings and signboards put up on the median of National Highways specially from Mantripukhri to North A.O.C., from the North A.O.C. to NityaipatChuthek via Khuyathong turning point from NityapatChuthek to Tiddim Ground and from NityaipatChuthek to Kakwa Police Station within 7 (seven) days from the date of issue of this letter failing which the department will take up legal action for non removal of hoardings/signboards. Yours faithfully, Sd/- (T. Rabindra Kumar Singh) Addl. Chief Engineer- III P.W.D., Manipur." Copy of this order be forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Commissioner (Works), Manipur, the Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Co-operation. Any officer found to be responsible for non removal or involved in erection of advertisement and hoardings as above will be personally liable for action in accordance with law. For reporting compliance, list the matter on 25.02.2019. " Thereafter, this Court passed the following order on 18.03.2019 as quoted below:- "18.03.2019 CJ Mr. K. Chandrakumar Singh, Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation has given the report through the Additional Advocate General dated 15.03.2019 giving some details of the action taken so far. Relevant portion of the report reads as follows: "At present hectic removal of the huge number of Advertisement structures on the road median of National Highway as per the direction of the Hon'ble High Court's Order stated above, for full compliance. Some huge unipoles/hoarding structures required to be removed with utmost care to avoid injury to the commuters and damage to the other structures such as Street Lamp, road Median, Electrical Lines, and flowers/Decorative Plants etc. For removal of such huge structures, there is requirement of skilled manpower and larger equipments, provided the same is to be done in the late evening hour to avoid any chance of accident and injury. However, at present, I am to inform that, maximum numbers of hoardings are already removed from the road medians, except some huge structures stated above. The remaining huge structures are also likely to be removed within the shortest period." In the report, it is stated that the Authority shall endeavour to remove all unauthorised structures of unipoles/hoarding etc within the time frame and report to this Court on 30.05.2019. List the matter on 30.05.2019." Thereafter, a detailed order was passed by this Court on 30.5.2019 as quoted below:- "O R D E R 30.5.2019 R.S., CJ. The issue raised in the PIL is in relation to removing all advertisement hoardings and structures including all forms of constructions that has been erected and installed in the median and middle of the National Highways and State Highways. On 21.01.2019, the following order was passed. "21.01.2019 CJ As a last chance, time is granted to the State Government to strictly implement with the direction of the Addl. Chief Engineer-II, P.W.D., Manipur which reads as follows :- "GOVERNMENT OF MANIPUR PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT ...... No.ACE-III/Misc/2018-19/ Dated Imphal, the 23rd June, 2018. To, The Municipal Commissioner Imphal Municipal Co-operation, Imphal. Subject: Removal of Advertisement Hoardings on National Highways within the Right of ways. Sir, Please find enclosed herewith letter bearing No.ACE- I/NH/Misc/2017- 18/312 dated 18th September, 2017 on the above subject you are again reminded to remove the hoardings and signboards put up on the median of National Highways specially from Mantripukhri to North A.O.C., from the North A.O.C. to Nityaipat Chuthek via Khuyathong turning point from Nityapat Chuthek to Tiddim Ground and from Nityaipat Chuthek to Kakwa Police Station within 7 (seven) days from the date of issue of this letter failing which the department will take up legal action for non removal of hoardings/signboards. Yours faithfully, Sd/- (T. Rabindra Kumar Singh) Addl. Chief Engineer-III P.W.D., Manipur." Copy of this order be forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Commissioner (Works), Manipur, the Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Co-operation. Any officer found to be responsible for non removal or involved in erection of advertisement and hoardings as above will be personally liable for action in accordance with law. For reporting compliance, list the matter on 25.02.2019." Thereafter, another order was passed on 18.3.2019. Complying with the said undertaking, an affidavit of compliance dated 29.5.2019 is filed. Paragraph No.1 of the affidavit reads as follows:- "1. That deponent begs to submit that pursuant to the Hon'ble Court's Order dated 18/03/2019, the Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation, vide letter dated 18/05/2019, informed the Under Secretary (MAHUD), Government of Manipur, all the Hoarding/Advertisement/Signboards viz. kiosks, unipoles and other structure for Advertisement which are erected on the road median of the National Highways (Mantripukhri to North AOC, North AOC to Nityapat Chuthek via Khuyathong turning point, Nityapat Chuthek to Tiddim Ground, Nityapat Chuthek to Kakwa Police Station) are now completely removed. True copy of the IMC Letter No.1/1/IMC-2018 (A) dated 18/05/2019 is enclosed herewith and marked as Annexure-A/1." The letter of the Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation dated 18.5.2019 at Annexure-A/1 reads as follows:- "OFFICE OF THE IMPHAL MUNICIPAL CORPORATION Imphal, the 18th May.2019 No.1/1/IMC-2018(A) To The Under Secretay (MAHUD), Government of Manipur. Ref:- Office letter NO. AAG/HCM/CC/2019-153 dated 14.05.2019 Sub:- Shri Khuraijam Debendra Singh- Vs- State of Manipur and Ors. PIL No. 52 of 2018 Sir, For implementation of the PWD's letter No. ACE- III/Misc/2018-19 dated 23.06.2018 read with letter dated 07.09.2016 issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Government of India and for compliance of the Hon'ble High Court's order dated 21.01.2019 passed in the PIL No. 52 of 2016, IMC started removal of Hoarding located on the road median of the National Highways. The removal process was little delayed due to non availability of required machineries and manpower. However, I am to inform that, after putting sincere efforts, all the Hoardings/ Advertisement/ Signboards viz kiosk, unipoles and other structures for Advertisement which are erected on the road median of the National Highways (Mantripukhri to North AOC, North AOC to Nityapat Chuthek via Khoyathong turning point, Nityapat Chuthek to Tiddim Ground, Nityapat Chuthek to Kakwa Police Station) are now completely removed. Kindly intimate the action taken report to the authority concerned. Yours faithfully, Sd/- (Angom Tanganba ) Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation" (emphasis supplied) As per this letter, it is stated that all the Hoardings /Advertisements/Signboards and others structures erected on the road median of the National Highways have been completely removed. This statement is taken on record. When this was placed before the learned counsel for the petitioner, learned counsel stated that the deponent of the affidavit dated 29.5.2019, namely, Shri M.Joy Singh, Commissioner-cum Secretary (MAHUD), Government of Manipur has filed a false statement before this Court and he should be proceeded for perjury because a contrary fact is stated by the Addl.Chief Engineer-III, P.W.D., Manipur to the Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation in his letter dated 23rd May, 2019 i.e. 5(five) days after 18th May, 2019. It gives a totally different picture. The letter which was given by the learned counsel for the petitioner dated 23rd May, 2019 reads as follows:- "GOVERNMENT OF MANIPUR PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT ..... No. ACE ?III /Misc(Hoardings)/2019.20/44 Dated Imphal, 23rd May, 2019. To The Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Co-operation, Manipur Subject: Removal of Advertisement Hoardings on National Highway within the Right of Ways. Sir, With reference to PIL No. 52 of 2018, it is to inform you that all the hoarding/advertisement board put up along National Highways have not been totally removed. Your are again (Emphasis supplied) reminded to remove all the hoarding/advertisement board erected along National Highways immediately. It is also notice that new hoarding/advertisement board have been erected on the roadside without seeking any permission of the competent authority which is gross violation of National Highways Norms. Further some of these hoarding's post were erected on the footpath/advertisement along the roadside should be remove immediately within seven days from the issue of this letter failing which the department will take up legal action for putting hoarding/advertisement board along National Highways for non complying of IRC Norms. Encl. Court Order and Photos. S.YOURSFAITHFULLY, S.SD/- (T. Rabindrakumar Singh), Addl. Chief Engineer-III, P.W.D., Manipur." The contradiction in statement of the two officers is apparent. In this circumstance, Shri M.Joy Singh, Commissioner-cum Secretary (MAHUD), Government of Manipur and Shri Angom Tanganba, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, Imphal Municipal Corporation who issued the letter dated 18.5.2019 are directed to be present in Court and explain as to how they have filed this affidavit dated 29.5.2019 which appears to be contrary to the letter dated 23.5.2019 issued by the Addl.Chief Engineer-III, P.W.D., Manipur. These officers, while being present in the Court, will also have to file an affidavit with photographs showing compliance of the direction of this Court for removal of the Hoardings/Advertisements, etc. on the next date of appearance. List the matter on 18.7.2019." ;


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