SC says no neta face on govt ads, except Prez, PM and CJI
New Delhi: The Supreme court on Wednesday ruled that government ads can only feature photographs of the President, the prime minister and the Chief Justice of India.
The court said this while restraining ruling parties from publishing photographs of political leaders or bureaucrats in government-funded advertisements meant to publicise various schemes and greet the public on various occasions.
The ruling means that state Governors and chief ministers cannot feature in government advertisements anymore.
The Apex court has also appointed a committee of three members to ensure that the new guidelines are not violated. “Advertisement materials should be objective and not directed at promoting political interests of ruling party,” the judges said.
The Apex court said their instructions will stand till parliament clears a law or policy for government ads.
The verdict was based on petitions filed by NGOs including that of lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, which said taxpayer’s money was being spent liberally on gaining political mileage.
The judgment has been widely welcomed by Newspapers bodies.
“Government ads must be only to disseminate information which has to be part neutral. If parties and their leaders want publicity let them spend their party funds for it”, said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners.
The Central government had stiffly opposed the court’s move, saying the issue did not fall under the ambit of the judicial purview.
“How can courts decide which advertisement has been issued to gain political mileage? These are matters which should be left to the government. The government expenditure is subject to whole lot of parliamentary procedures and each penny is accounted for and subjected to a CAG audit”, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said on behalf of central government.