SC seeks Centre’s response on Chief Ministers in govt. ads

A bench of Justices also issued notice to NGO Common Cause, who had filed the original PIL, on the review petitions filed by the States.

Updated - September 14, 2015 06:36 pm IST

Published - September 14, 2015 06:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre's response on pleas made by several State governments, including Tamil Nadu, to review its verdict banning the publication of photographs of Chief Ministers from government advertisements.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre's response on pleas made by several State governments, including Tamil Nadu, to review its verdict banning the publication of photographs of Chief Ministers from government advertisements.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre's response on pleas made by several State governments, including Tamil Nadu, to review its verdict banning the publication of photographs of Chief Ministers from government advertisements.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P.C. Ghose also issued notice to NGO Common Cause, who had filed the original PIL, on the review petitions filed by the States.

The States argued that they enjoy autonomy in a federal structure of governance, and so, if the court can allow the Prime Minister's photographs to be published in government advertisements heralding new projects and welfare schemes, Chief Ministers too have every right to have their photos published.

The Supreme Court, in its May 13 judgment, had banned ruling parties from publishing photos of Chief Ministers of States, political leaders and politicians in government-funded advertisements, saying that it cannot allow them to use taxpayers’ money to build “personality cults”.

The apex court said such photos divert attention from the policy of the government, unnecessarily associate an individual with a government project and pave the way for cultivating a “personality cult”.

However, as an exception to this general rule, the court held that the photos of only three constitutional authorities — Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India — can be used in such ads. But for that too, the personal approval of these three authorities need to be got before publication.

The judgment by a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana had come on the basis of a series of recommendations given by a committee led by noted legal academician N.S. Madhava Menon on introducing checks on government-funded ads.

The apex court had set up the committee in April 2014 on the basis of a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause that had argued that ruling party leaders and ministers were taking undue advantage at public expenses.

The Menon panel had recommended a complete ban on publishing of photos in the ads. It had further said that no ads should be allowed on election eve. But the court had dismissed the idea of a curb on government ads on election eve, though it said such ads should be given with fairness and even dispensation to the media.

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