The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday directed the federal and provincial governments to ensure that billboards and advertisement hoardings are removed from and no longer put up on public properties, including footpaths, islands in the centre of roads, overhead bridges and roundabouts, within the jurisdictions of the cantonment boards and civil areas.
The direction came on a petition with regard to the imposition of levy on advertisements by the cantonment boards. An SHC division bench comprising Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan said billboards and hoardings are seen across the city on public properties in serious contempt of the Supreme Court’s order. The petitioners challenged the competency of the cantonment boards to levy fee or charges in respect of billboards and hoardings put up within their jurisdictions.
They also challenged the vires of rules 10(1) and 10(2) of the Sindh Local Councils Advertisement Rules 2021 and the purported amendments made in the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, saying that the amendments are against the spirit of the SC judgment.
They sought the implementation of the SC order that instructed public functionaries not to allow billboards and hoardings on public properties, and to remove such billboards within the jurisdictions of the local government and the cantonment boards.
The petitioners’ counsel said that the act of the respondents with regard to putting up billboards on public properties is in gross violation of the SC judgment. The counsel also said the cantonment boards at the same time illegally continue to demand fees and other charges from the erectors of such boards and the advertisers despite lacking competency under sections 61 and 62 of the Cantonment Boards Act 1924.
The counsel pointed out that the Government of Sindh has proposed some changes in the advertisement rules that are against the judgment of the SC. The counsel of the Cantonment Board Faisal said that the billboards and hoardings shown by the petitioners do not pertain to the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board Faisal.
After hearing the arguments of the counsels, the bench said that the SC had defined public properties in its order and completely restrained public functionaries from putting up billboards and hoardings within their jurisdictions.