The Madras High Court on Friday criticised the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government for failing to implement its order banning political hoardings in the state, The Indian Express reported. The Madras High Court’s observation came a day after a techie died as an AIADMK hoarding fell on her in Chennai.

The victim, identified as software engineer Subhashree, was returning home after work on Thursday when the hoarding fell on her. Subhashree, who was riding a bike, lost balance and fell, following which a water tanker ran over her, crushing her to death. The police have arrested the driver of the tanker.

The court said it was tired of passing orders against installation of flex boards in the state, ANI reported. Justice N Seshasayee said there was “zero respect for lives in this country”. “Sorry, we have lost faith in the government,” he added.

The court was hearing a petition filed by activist ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy against the Tamil Nadu government’s failure to remove illegal hoardings despite a High Court order, The News Minute reported. “The authorities have not followed the court’s orders pertaining to the banners,” the court observed. “Even after multiple warnings, nothing has been implemented. We cannot do the government’s job.”

“How many more deaths are the government and the authorities awaiting?” the High Court asked. It said that no matter which party came to power, government officials become “agents” of that party, and solve the matter merely by offering compensation to the victim’s family.

The court asked Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to make a statement to party cadre ordering them not to put up such hoardings. “It must be the state’s resolve to prevent illegal flex boards,” the court said. “Make it a movement in the state that we’ll not do anything that harms the citizens of this country.”

Tamil Nadu Advocate General R Muthukumaraswamy sought two days’ time from the court, saying that the police would take strict action against those responsible for putting up the hoarding. However, the court asked government officials to remove all party flags from Kamarajar Salai by 2.15 pm on Friday and report back to the court.

A 30-year-old engineer had died in Coimbatore in November 2017 after an illegal hoarding fell on him, and a truck ran him over. Following this, the Madras High Court had ordered all illegal flex hoardings removed from the city.

In December 2018, the court directed that no political party, registered or unregistered, should erect flex boards that cause inconvenience to the public, The News Minute reported. On January 11, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the state government and to the Centre, directing them to restrict political parties from erecting digital banners. In March, the top court reiterated the ban on political boards in Tamil Nadu.

DMK, AIADMK issue orders to cadre

Both the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the AIADMK subsequently asked their cadre not to put up hoardings. “Cadres shouldn’t erect banners or posters that will cause inconvenience to the public,” a statement from the AIADMK said, according to ANI. “Some overenthusiastic cadres put these banners without realising the adverse impact it has on society and general public.We are pained to know the hardship such banners cause to the public.”

DMK President MK Stalin said: “I reiterate that DMK party cadres must avoid banners, flex, posters etc to advertise party-related events. Only one or two can be used with permission. Strict action will be taken against those who violate this, and I will not participate [in the event].”

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