Bhat Vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors  Insc 214 (16 April 2001)
Khare & N. Santosh Hegde Santosh Hegde, J.
WPŠNo.159/2001,CANo 2804/2001@SLPŠNo 6412CC 2533/2001, CA No 2805/2001 @ SLPŠNo
6413 CC 2543/2001, CA No 2806/2001 SLPŠNo 6414 CC 2646/2001, CA No 2807/2001 @
SLPŠNo.5840/2001, CA No 2808-2820/2001 @ SLPŠNo.5862-74/2001, CA No 2821-
2823/2001 @SLPŠNo.5887-89/2001, CA No 2824/2001 @ SLPŠNo.5899/2001, CANo
2825/2001 @ SLPŠNo.6125/2001, CA No 2826-2827/2001@SLPŠNo.6180-81/2001, CA No
2828/2001 @ SLPŠNo.6187/2001, CA No 2829/2001 @ SLPŠNo.6188/2001 and CA No
2830/2001 @ SLPŠNo.6189/2001.)
granted in all the SLPs.
learned counsel for the parties.
appellants in these appeals having been unsuccessful in their challenge before
the High Court of Judicature at Madras to the validity of Section 326 of the
City Municipal Corporation Act of the State of Tamil Nadu Act 51/1998 and
Amended Act 2/2000 (for short the Acts) and consequential notices issued under
the Acts, have preferred these appeals.
hearing the parties concerned since we were at ad- idem with most of the
conclusions arrived at by the High Court in its impugned judgment, we thought
it appropriate to dispose of the appeals at this stage itself.
the High Court the appellants challenged the vires of Section 326(J) of the
Act, inter alia, on the following grounds :-
Advertisement by hoardings was a fundamental right of the appellants under
Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution;
Power given to the Commissioner under the impugned Act to remove any hoarding
which he felt was hazardous was arbitrary, unreasonable, hence, was violative
of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The limitation imposed under the Act for applying for licences could not be
enforced in the absence of any Rules and Forms providing for application for
existing hoarding owners.
High Court rejected the said contentions of the appellants holding:
that the writ petitions are not maintainable on behalf of the Association of
Hoarding owners since such associations had no fundamental right which could be
enforced in a court of law;
the petitioners before it were only the owners of the hoardings and not advertisers,
therefore, they could not claim any fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a);
no guidelines were necessary in the exercise of the power to remove the
hoardings under Section 326(J) in view of the interpretation given by it to the
applications for licences had to be filed within one month period given by the
Commissioner by means of an advertisement and such period could not be
us, the very same grounds are urged and, as stated above, we are inclined to
agree with the High Court that Section 326(J) of the Act is neither ultra vires
of Article 14 nor Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, in view of the
interpretation given by the High Court. However, we are inclined to take
somewhat a different view in regard to certain observation made by the High
Court as to the requirement of Section 326(J) as also with regard to the right
of the appellants to have sufficient time to apply for grant of licence and
renewals under the provisions of the impugned Amendment for the following reasons
High Court though rightly held that the principles of natural justice is
fundamental in Administrative Law and these principles of natural justice even
if not found on the face of the Statute, could be deduced from the object of
the Act and the Rules, erred in coming to the conclusion that the authorities
were duty bound to remove all the hoardings simply because they are visible to
traffic and the authorities had no option but to remove all such the hoardings
which are visible to the traffic. By this finding, the High Court came to the
conclusion that mere visibility of the hoarding to the traffic was sufficient
for either removing the hoarding or will be a sufficient ground to refuse to
grant/renewal of a licence. This conclusion, in our opinion, is contrary to the
very wording of Section 326(J) of the Act which reads thus :
any hoarding (other than traffic sign and road sign) visible to the traffic on
the road is hazardous and disturbance to the safe traffic movement, so as to
adversely affect free and safe flow of traffic x x x.
plain reading of this Section shows that the authorities concerned are
empowered either to refuse to grant licence/renewal or to remove the existing
hoardings only if the same is hazardous and is a disturbance to safe traffic
movement which, in turn, should adversely affect free and safe flow of traffic,
unless these impediments are present in the hoardings, merely because the said
hoardings are visible to the traffic, cannot be a ground for either refusing
the grant/renewal of licence.
also of the opinion that in the facts and circumstances of this case, to comply
with the principles of natural justice, there is a need to grant some
reasonable time to the appellants to make necessary applications for applying
for grant/renewal of the licences as contemplated under the Act because of the
fact that there was some practical difficulty for the intending applicants to
apply within the statutory period for such licences/renewals under the Act. It
is to be seen that under the Act, an application for licence had to be made
within 30 days of the Act coming into force (i.e. 23.7.1998) but the necessary
procedure to be followed for complying with the said direction was not incorporated
in the Act and the same came into force when the concerned Rules were notified
which was done only on 10.8.1998. Because of this delay, we notice from the
pleadings that the concerned authorities extended the said time to apply for licences
by publishing such extension of time by notification in the newspaper, but for
various reasons, we find many of the intending applicants had difficulties in
applying for grant of licences, therefore, to do complete justice, we are of
the considered opinion that such applicants should be given a reasonable
opportunity of applying for licences.
also of the opinion till such extended time for applying for the licences/renewals
and till such time as their applications are decided the Statusquo as existing
on today should continue.
the reasons stated above, while upholding the validity of the Act, we modify
the order of the High Court and direct that such of the persons intending to
apply for grant of licence/renewal should be permitted to do so within 30 days
from today and in such an event, their applications will be considered by the
concerned authorities in accordance with Section 326(J), as interpreted by us
hereinabove, within a reasonable time and till such time as their applications
are considered and disposed of, the existing hoardings shall not be removed.
For the foregoing reasons, we modify the conclusions and directions issued by
the High Court in Para 93 of its judgment as follows:-
hold that the provisions of Act 51/98 and Act 2/2000 are valid and intra vires
of the Constitution. The persons desirous of obtaining a hoarding licence under
the Act be given 30 days time from today to make the necessary application in
the prescribed form and on payment of prescribed fee and on such applications
being filed, the licensing authority shall consider the same in accordance with
Section 326(J) of the Act, as interpreted by us.
no application for grant of licence is received within 30 days as stipulated by
us hereinabove by any owner of the existing hoarding, the same shall be removed
without further notice and also if the application for grant of licence is
rejected in accordance with law, the necessary consequences contemplated under
the Act will follow.
appeals are, thus, disposed of in above terms.
view of the order passed in the aforesaid Civil Appeals, this writ petition is
also disposed of in similar terms.