The Patna HC has paved way for political parties to raise hoardings/banners at private properties, as part of their election campaign, after obtaining written consent of the owner/occupier of such property.
The bench held that permitting only individual candidates to raise hoardings and precluding political parties from such benefit will “emasculate” the intention of the legislature in enacting the Defacement of Property Act, 1987.
The observation was made in a writ petition filed by Century Business Pvt. Ltd. a private company engaged by the Bhartiya Janta Party to put up 950 hoarding on private properties as part of election campaign in Bihar.
The request was declined while stating that section 3(3) of the 1987 Act specifies that the owner or the occupier of a private property can give written consent and permit only persons contesting an election. It was contended tha the legislature had deliberately excluded political parties as a class from the privilege of putting up hoardings.
It was submitted that the statute has to be interpreted in its “literal sense” unless it causes any mischief and if the language of an Act as in the present case, is clear then it does not require any artificial rule of interpretation to be applied.
Further the court agreed with the petitioner’s contention that when political parties wee permitted to put up hoardings in Jharkhand, “no two standards can be applied in interpreting an Act or Rule in two different contiguous States.
On the state’s contention about rules of interpretation of a Statute, the bench clarified, the golden rule of construction is to be preferred first but subject to the caveat that if any mischief is caused while strictly interpreting the rules, there would be no harm in reading it down by infusing practically into the rule in question.
Furthermore, most of the states have their local laws to prevent such defacement and bring the guilty/defaulters to book.