The Tamil Nadu government has been given permission by the Madras High Court to put up banners to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping who are slated to hold an informal meet near Chennai this month.
The ruling comes amid outrage over the death of a 23-year-old software engineer who was knocked down by an illegal hoarding put up by an AIADMK functionary and hit by a water tanker last month.
Display of photographs and portraits of living persons in public places was originally banned by the Madras High Court in October 2017 following a series of tragedies that had led to loss of lives. However, this order was set aside and in last December, the high court had banned political parties from putting up banners.
While passing the order today, the court made it clear that the banners put up should not cause "hardship for the public" and that the state has to follow all existing rules on installation of such banners. This case, spearheaded by veteran social activist Traffic Ramaswamy, would be heard on October 23.
After Subashree's death, the state government was pulled up by the high court or not effectively implementing its order. Stung by the public anger, the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK had asked their workers to stop putting up hoardings and banners.
In its high court petition on behalf of the AIADMK government on Tuesday, the commissioner of municipal in Chennai had said that it is customary for the Foreign Ministry to welcome a visiting dignitary by putting up banners.
The petitioner said the Foreign Ministry and the state government want to put up 30 banners at designated places to welcome the top dignitaries. PM Modi and Xi Jinping will hold their second informal meet from October 11 to13, at Mamallapuram, about
50 km from Chennai.
On Wednesday, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the "haphazard banner culture". "While Tamil Nadu and Tamilians are struggling to cope up with the loss of Subashree's death, the Tamil Nadu Government has approached the courts to obtain permission to erect your banners," Mr Haasan tweeted.