Chennai: Taking note of the extensive clean-up drive here and in nearby Mamallapuram ahead of the summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Madras High Court on Thursday orally observed that leaders need to visit Tamil Nadu often in order for it to remain spick and span.
A vacation bench comprising Justices S Vaidyanathan and C Saravanan made the observation while hearing a petition seeking special legislation to impose maximum punishment on those erecting illegal banners.
Mamallapuram now has become very clean. Only when big leaders come, the government takes such steps. If Tamil Nadu has to become neat and clean, such leaders have to visit now and then, the bench said in its oral observations.
The judges were referring to the beautification and cleaning work undertaken on a war-footing in parts of Chennai and at the ancient coastal town of Mamallapuram, about 50 km from here, where Modi and Xi are set to hold talks over the next two days.
Xi, arriving here on Friday afternoon, will stay at a hotel in the city and travel by road to Mamallapuram for the talks with Modi.
The seventh-century Pallava monuments, including the Shore Temple, at Mamallapuram have been given a facelift while the entire stretch of GST Road where the Chennai airport is located, the Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road (ECR), which the foreign leader will take to reach the venue of the summit, sports a fresh new look.
Wallposters over the huge pillars of the Metrorail on the GST Road have been removed while the centre medians on roads have been repainted in the past few days. Electrical junction boxes have been covered with art works at several places.
The court had last week allowed the government to place banners welcoming the two leaders to Mamallapuram.
Hearing the plea by the father of woman techie R Subashree, who was recently run over by a truck while riding a two-wheeler after an illegal banner fell on her, the court on Thursday favoured a bench hearing petitions against illegal banners to consider reimposing the ban on printing pictures of living people on such publicity material.
In October 2017, Justice Vaidyanathan heading a single judge bench had ordered a ban on use of pictures of living people on banners and hoardings. Subsequently, the first bench of the court had set aside the order on the ground that no statute or rule prohibits such inclusion of pictures in banners.
On Thursday, the court was informed that another division bench headed by Justice M Sathyanarayanan was already seized of the matter related to illegal banners. The vacation bench then directed the registry to tag the plea of Subashree's father with other petitions pending before the division bench.
In its interim order, it also wanted the other bench to consider whether the authority sanctioning permission for erection of banners could call for furnishing Aadhaar card details from the printer. This would help for taking action for any breach of rules and guidelines.
The petitioner also sought Rs 1 crore as compensation from the government for his daughters death and a probe by a special investigation team into the September 12 accident.
In a related matter, former AIADMK counsellor C Jayagopal, arrested for erecting the illegal banner that caused the death of Subhasree, approached the high court seeking bail. In his petition, he claimed that the unauthorised banners were put up by his party cadres for his son's marriage out of "love and affection" and that he had no role in it.
Jayagopal also claimed that he had not intentionally caused any harm or inconvenience to the public and that he was in no way connected with the incident.
When the petition came up for hearing before Justice B Pugalendi, the prosecution sought time for appearance of the public prosecutor. The judge then adjourned the hearing to October 15.