ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was requested on Tuesday to revisit its Oct 17 order on removal of billboards in the country with a plea that outdoor advertising is a lawful occupation and not barred under any law.
A petition seeking the review of the Oct 17 order has been filed jointly by Mohammad Rehman, Irfan Iqbal and Qurban Ali through their counsel Chaudhry Faisal Hussain.
The public places are the main sources of income for outdoor advertisement, the petition argues, adding that the rule of propriety and the principle of fairness demand an immediate reconsideration of the verdict affecting the lawful and constitutional rights of the petitioners as well as a large number of daily-wage earners associated with this lawful profession.
The review petition is aimed at raising voice for thousands of mostly poor workers who belong to the pauper class and also fall in the lowest income bracket of society and are totally dependent on this industry, the petition contends, adding that the judgement is jeopardising their fundamental rights without giving them ample opportunity to save their livelihood.
Petition says outdoor advertising is source of earning for millions of people
Outdoor advertising, the petition contends, is one of the trades or businesses for millions of common people and their families. The trade is also contributing hugely to the national economy in the shape of Rs50 billion on a yearly basis.
The petition highlights that public places are not under any law barred to be used for advertising of taxation, hence excluding outdoor advertising at public places amounts to selective treatment by the apex court.
The Supreme Court by using the jurisdiction of suo motu has always been serving in the interest and the causes of poorest of the poor, thus creating a bar on itself to act only to the benefit of those who have no voice, the petition says.
Therefore, it says, the petitioners look towards the apex court to save their families from hunger and starvation and they have all the legitimate expectations to be treated fairly as the Supreme Court has always been saving the deprived classes from the miseries and difficulties.
In its order, the Supreme Court had held that allowing hoardings/billboards would endanger the life and property of the public and, therefore, installation of any billboards or hoardings by cantonment boards or any other agency or a public property would deem to be illegal.
The judgement had stated that there were so many other ways by which businesses could market themselves through print or electronic media which was one of the most popular means to advertise in today’s day and age.
The court had also held that if billboards/hoardings were to be used for the purpose of advertisement, then the businesses should advertise on private buildings.
The court had also ordered the government to amend the bylaws so that a nationwide uniformity could be achieved to ensure safety measures of citizens by regulating the hoardings or billboards in the country.
“The Supreme Court is the custodian of the fundamental rights of the public at large, but the Oct 17 judgement seems to be the result of inadequate and improper assistance,” the petition argues.
It is the fundamental right of the petitioners as well as other citizens to enter upon lawful occupation and trade of business, but the persons associated with the outdoor industry have been condemned unheard, the petition contends.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018