The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Buddha wants law that is clear, people want walls that are clean

It will not be his first gift to the people after being re-elected, but it's just a matter of time before Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee delivers ' a city with defaced walls, of course.

The chief minister on Thursday stressed in the Assembly that The West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976, would be repealed and a fresh law 'reflecting a balanced but clear position framed'.

Metro brings you a clear view of where the war over wall graffiti stands today.


'In the past 29 years, the Left Front government has not been aware of the existence of such a law enacted by the Siddhartha Shankar Ray government. Had we been aware of it, we would have repealed it long ago' The provisions of the Defacement Act are dangerous' It infringes the rights of political parties'We have decided to repeal it.

Having said that, I must say ' and this is my personal opinion, as a committee has already been formed to look into this ' that we have to decide whether graffiti or wall writings should be allowed on the walls of government offices. Would you like to allow such things on the walls of Writers' Buildings' No civilised country allows that.

Second, should commercial advertisements on walls be held on a par with political graffiti'

Third, the rights of the house-owners opposed to writings on walls of their properties have to be considered. We need a clear law on that, so that police can intervene and stop those violating their rights.

I am opposed to repealing the Act summarily, since I know there are many people outside the political milieu who are opposed to wall writing' We want to honour these opinions and frame a new law reflecting a balanced but clear position.'


The new Cabinet, in its first meeting, set up a committee, comprising law minister Rabilal Moitra, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and panchayat minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, to look into all aspects of the matter before suggesting the framework for the new defacement law.


The West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976, defines defacement as impairing or interfering with the appearance or beauty, damaging, disfiguring, spoiling or injuring any property including building, hut, structures, wall, tree, fence post or pole.

Sec 3 (1) states: 'Whoever defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material, except for the purpose of indicating the name and address of the owner or occupier of such property, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.'


'The house-owner can go to the nearest police station and lodge an FIR against those defacing his walls. Since this is a cognisable offence, police will arrest those involved in the act and take penal action against them under the provisions of the act' ' P.K. Chatterjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters)

The ground reality is quite different. 'Who will dare go to police' And which police station will act against its political masters' The fact is, no one willingly wants his walls to be defaced. But if members of the ruling party deface the walls, one has to keep quiet or face the consequences,' said a resident of Dhakuria, the chief minister's constituency.


Sec. 425: 'Whoever with intent to cause, or knowing that he is likely to cause, wrongful loss or damage to the public or to any person, causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property or in the situation thereof as destroys or diminishes its value or utility, or affects it injuriously, commits mischief.'

Sec. 426: 'Whoever commits mischief shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.'


The Telegraph has urged Calcuttans to raise their voice against the move to legitimise defacement of walls. Here are some responses relevant to Thursday's developments'

4How can the CM say this (about not knowing about the law)' This means an illiterate bunch of people is at the helm of affairs in West Bengal. They have broken the law for the past 29 years ' Pujan Kr Choudhury, Salt Lake

Do you think the CPM goons will ask for anybody's permission'

' Nilmani Mitra, Gariahat Road

The walls of my house are not the fiefdom of the government, or any political party.

' Kalyan Kumar Ghosh, Bangur Avenue.

Email This Page