Answered by Amrisha Tripathi, a Research Team Member at LawFarm:
Defacement of property is a common problem in a country like India. One would see movie posters, advertisement banners, etc. at places which are not meant to host them. Public places like parks, bus/railway/metro stations, colleges, government buildings are the most common targets of unwarranted advertisement posters. Owing to this, the States have local advertisement laws and by-laws and municipal Acts which prevent and penalise defacement of public property by putting up posters and banners. One of the earliest laws in this regard is the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976 which defines defacement of property as interfering with the appearance of any erection in any manner whatsoever.
The Act penalises such interference with a punishment of imprisonment upto 6 months or a fine of Rs. 1000 or both.
This Act was also extended to the NCT of Delhi in 1983 until its own advertisement law came up in 2008. It has been held by the Supreme Court (SC) that putting up posters should be regulated for both public and private properties since public life is affected under both the circumstances.
The Delhi High Court too, in one of its judgments, held that for putting up unlicensed posters and banners, no parallel can be drawn with the right to freedom of speech and expression. As observed by the SC on various occasions that enjoyment of fundamental rights comes with the corresponding duties, it is needless to say that such rights should not be the cause of public inconvenience. It has also been categorically held in various cases that putting up of posters/banners hampers the right to hygienic environment which is an integral facet of healthy life. The right to live in a humane and healthy environment is violated by the illegalities committed by the people who put up such posters/banners on public and private properties.
Apart from the aforementioned 1976 Act, the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007 was passed by the Government of NCT of Delhi in 2008 and lays down stricter punishment for defacement of property. Under this Act, the punishment for defacing property
is an imprisonment upto a period of one year or a fine upto Rs. 50, 000 or both. These State and municipal laws are applicable without any prejudice to Sections 425 and 434 of the Indian Penal Code
which criminalise and penalise the destruction caused to public/private and public property, respectively. Unlike the local laws, the range of fine under the Indian Penal Code depends on factors like cost incurred in the construction of the property, its current monetary value and its significance.
In order to file charges against the person(s) responsible for the defacement of property, you can file an FIR with your nearest police station using the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (mentioned above) and the State and the municipal laws.
I hope the query was significantly answered.
Section 2 of the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976.
Section 3 of the Act.
Noise Pollution-Implementation of the Laws for Restricting Use of Loudspeakers and High Volume Producing Sound Systems (In Re) [(2005) 5 SCC 730]
See M.P. v. Kedia Leather & Liquor Pvt. Ltd. [(2003) 7 SCC 389]; Chameli Singh v. State of U.P. [(1996) 2 SCC 549]
As specified under Section 2 of the Act
For punishment see Section 427 IPC; see Section 436 IPC for mischief caused by fire and explosives.