The Supreme Court today kindled hope in the minds of chief ministers across the country that their photos may also be allowed to be published on government advertisements.
A bench of justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose admitted petitions filed by states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and Assam against the May 13 order which had specified that advertisements to give publicity to a government scheme can only feature photographs of the President, the prime minister and the Chief Justice of India.
The bench during an in-chamber proceedings assured the counsels that they will consider reviewing the order and hear arguments to allow publication of photos of chief ministers also.
“Programmes and targets for the future as advertised carry the impression of being associated with particular individuals. Photographs, therefore, have the potential of developing personality cult and the image of one or a few individuals which is a direct antithesis of democratic functioning”, said a bench headed by Justice Gogoi in the May 13 order.
The court had said :“One government advertisement or the other coinciding with some event or occasion is published practically every day. Publication of the photograph of an individual be a state or party functionary not only has the tendency of associating that particular individual with either the achievements sought to be highlighted or being the architect of the benefits in respect of which information is sought to be percolated”,.
It is to be noted that even as late as on August 17, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing his NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) which is the petitioner in the casemoved Supreme Court seeking contempt of court action against Kejriwal-led Delhi government for alleged misuse of crores worth of public funds by issuing advertisements in electronic and print media glorifying the Chief Minister and the party in “total violation” of May 13 Supreme Court judgment.
Bhushan has also sought similar action against AIADMK-led government in Tamil Nadu for similar “violations”.
Admitting the petition, Justice Gogoi refused to issue notice to Kejriwal government but sought an explanation from the Modi government as to why it has not yet set up a three-member committee to regulate and scan government advertisements for violations and take appropriate action.
“The advertisement issued by the GNCTD would show how the party in power could waste public money by allocating 22 times more funds for advertisement just to espouse its own cause and to create glorification of the government and its leaders. It portrays a case for clear derogation and wilful violation of the supreme court order not only in letters but also in spirit”, the CPIL plea said.