Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to formulate guidelines to regulate placing of advertisements in newspapers by government departments on the occasion of birthdays of political leaders.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice R.V. Raveendran gave this direction on a petition, which highlighted how the Central and State Governments were spending crores on such advertisements.

The Centre said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry convened a meeting of the State Governments and Central departments for December before framing the guidelines.

The Bench made it clear that the Centre should formulate the guidelines or the court would do so.

The petition, filed by advocate Manzoor Ali Khan, said that often many welfare schemes were put on hold due to the ever-increasing budget deficit and lack of adequate funds for capital expenditure. "Crores of rupees in public money spent on such advertisements for self-glorification of politicians can be usefully spent on welfare schemes. It is time for introspection by all concerned."

The petitioner urged the court to lay down proper guidelines to end the wasteful expenditure.