Pictures of politicians not to appear in Government Ads other than Indian President, CJI and PM: Supreme Court

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New Delhi: Government of Centre and States are stopped by the decision of the honourable Supreme Court, from publishing the photographs / pictures of the politicians like Minister, Chief Ministers, and ruling political party Presidents along with the Government advertisements.

The decision which was taken by the Top Court on this Wednesday can be seen as a significant development in the regulation of Public advertisements. However, the exemption is given to the publishing of photographs of dignitaries such as President, Chief Justice of India and Prime Minister India.

The decision was taken by the Bench of Top Court led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, where the plea of Central Government, that in the work field of the Policy decisions of the Government, the Judiciary should not interfere, was rejected by it. It is in this context, the Top Court said that the Judiciary has authority to step into such field of policy decisions by the Government, when there is no Policy or Law in existence.

Earlier there was required from the Central Government that it should constitute a Three- Member Committee for regulating the concerned issue of Public Advertisement. And based on the suggestion and recommendations of such Committee, the Court has provided for such directions in relation to the issue of regulating Government Advertisements, however, the Top Court has taken down the suggestion of having Special audit in cases of Award of Government Advertisement to the Media houses. The said recommendations and suggestions were made by the Committee after taking into account the best practices in countries like US, Australia, Canada, and UK.

In making the decision of prohibiting the publishing of other politicians’ picture along with the Government Advertisement, the honourable Supreme Court has made observation to the effect that the said use of photographs not only has a tendency to associate an individual with a project, but is also leading to the personality cult. As such, in the view of the Top Court, the same will be a direct injustice to the democracy.

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It was specified by the Court that, the legitimate objective of the Advertisements can always be achieved without such publishing the photograph of the Individuals.

The Court has taken this decision, by calling the said advertisement with individuals photographs as an “antithesis to democracy” which let the Political functionaries to develop “personality cult” at the cost of public money.

While making this decision the Court has cited its relevancy with the Directive Principles of the State Policy under India Constitution, and said that the Social and Economic Justice to the teeming millions of the Country will be secured by the assurance of avoidance of unproductive expenditure of public funds.

However, the advertisements in the memories of National Leaders and Great Personalities can be issued by the Government.

The present decisions were taken by the honourable Apex Court of India, while dealing with the matters in Public Interest Litigation filed by the several Non- Governmental Organizations for Common Cause and CPIL. In relation to the same matters, it was in the month of April, 2014, the Top Court had ordered constitution of a panel for framing comprehensive Guidelines to help end the abuse of public advertisements for political mileage, which results in the recommendations of the Committee and consequently in these decisions.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.