Apex court orders sessions judges to submit a report on removal of billboards after inspection
The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday that billboards and hanging advertisement boards be removed from private properties including shopping centres and markets.
The court also directed sessions judges to submit a report on the removal of billboards after inspecting their respective districts in the city.
Hearing the matter of illegal signboards and hoardings in the city, a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim observed that heavy billboards were set up on the rooftops of private properties and shopping markets which could be dangerous for pedestrians.
Additional attorney general Salman Talibuddin submitted that different civic agencies, SITE and cantonment boards had filed their respective reports and billboards were removed from public places in their respective jurisdictions.
He submitted that many advertisers had built pedestrian overhead bridges on different roads in the city and utilised them for advertising. He sought a clarification about the fate of these bridges as well as the installation of billboards on private properties.
The court observed that one amenity could not be used against another and installing billboards on pedestrian bridge could not be permissible because driving safety and obstruction of view concerns.
The court observed that these contracts were void ab-initio as no contract was permissible in the law which was against the safety of the people.
It observed that huge billboards were installed on private properties which were dangerous for citizens as buildings in the city were not constructed for additional installations on rooftops.
The bench observed that cellular phone towers were also installed on the rooftops of private buildings and that matter would also be taken up with the instant matter as it was not for an individual but in the larger public interest.
The additional attorney general submitted that the proposed bylaws for the installation of billboards had been submitted before the court wherein verification from a structure engineer had been made mandatory for the approval of installation.
The court observed that Karachi was located in seismic zone which should be kept in mind by the authorities concerned while granting such permissions.
The court also questioned the criteria of permission by the structure engineers of the Sindh Building Control Authority and observed that the permission could easily be obtained without any inspection of the building.
The counsel for advertisers submitted that overhead bridges were used by private TV channels and other companies for installing their billboards. The court observed that no billboards could be installed on pedestrian bridges.
The court directed the sessions judges of five districts of the city to submit a report on the removal of billboards and adjourned the hearing for a month.
The SC had observed that the permission for installing heavy billboards could not be granted by the land owners or civic agencies of the city as the act was in violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
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