There should be an exception only in the case of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the country who may themselves decide the question. Advertisements issued to commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the father of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader, the supreme court order says. – Apex Court
New Delhi: A two judge bench of Supreme Court of India comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra Ghose today passed a historic order overruling the recommendation of a committee appointed by the court with regard to publication of photographs of Governor or chief minister of the state along with advertisements.
Common Cause and Centre for Public Interest Litigation, two registered bodies, had approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking an appropriate writ to restrain the Union of India and all State Governments from using public funds on Government advertisements which are
primarily intended to project individual functionaries of Government or a political party
The Apex Court order says: ‘The legitimate and permissible object of an advertisement…..can always be achieved without publication of the photograph of any particular functionary either in the State of a political party. We are, therefore, of the view that in departure to the views of the Committee which recommended permissibility of publication of the photographs of the President and Prime Minister of the country and Governor or Chief Minister of the State along with the advertisements, there should be an exception only in the case of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the country who may themselves decide the question. Advertisements issued to commemorate anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the father of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader’, the supreme court order says.
A Committee comprising of (1) Prof. (Dr.) N.R.Madhava Menon, former Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal (2) Mr. T.K. Viswanathan, former Secretary General, Lok Sabha and (3) Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Senior Advocate were asked to to go into the matter.
On the above committee’s recommendation for the appointment of Ombudsman, the Apex Court has refrained from naming the specific persons and left the exercise to be performed by the Union Government for ‘ironing out the creases that are bound to show from time to time in the implementation of the present directions’.
On the demand for special audit (of government advertisements), the order says: “we do not feel the necessity of any such special audit inasmuch as
the machinery available is adequate to ensure dueperformance as well as accountability and proper utilization of public money.
The Supreme Court has specifically directed that the power of the purse Government advertisements invariably involve. Hence the concept of fairness
and even dispensation to all media/publishing houses will have to be maintained by the Government be it at the Centre or the States.
Besides the categorical instructions with regard to photos that can go with government adverstisements, the Supreme Court has approved and adopted the recommendations of the Committee with regard to:
- publication of photographs of the Government functionaries and political leaders along with the advertisement(s).
- appointment of an Ombudsman
- the recommendation with regard to performance audit by each Ministry.
- embargo on advertisements on the eve of the elections.
While issuing directions under Article 142, the Supreme Court has pointed to gaps and said in its order: ‘The gaps, if any, we are confident would be filled up by the executive arm of the government itself inasmuch as the attainment of constitutional goals and values enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution is the conjoint responsibility of the three organs of the State i.e. legislative, executive and the judiciary.”