Government only can decide ‘how much, when and how’ publicity, SC told

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel February 18, 2015 11:50

Government only can decide ‘how much, when and how’ publicity, SC told


New Delhi, Feb 18  The government told the Supreme Court that it was within its domain to decide how much and how it should spend on publicising its policies and programmes and it was answerable to parliament and no entity without a legal sanction can oversee it.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi gave the government’s stand to a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Pinkai Chandra Ghose as the court reserved its order after hearing submissions on the guidelines suggested by the apex court-appointed three member committee headed by eminent legal academician N.R. Madhavan Menon.

The Committee in its report on “Guidelines on Content Regulation of Government Advertising” has said that the government advertisements should be politically neutral and refrain from carrying the photographs of the political leaders and only in essential situations the photographs of the president, prime minister, governor or chief ministers should be used.

“Government advertising shall maintain political neutrality and avoid glorification of political personalities and projecting a positive impression of the party in power or a negative impression of parties critical of the government,” said the committee which also had former Lok Sabha secretary general T.K. Vishwanathan and present Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar as its members.

Attorney General Rohatgi opposed the submissions by the counsel for the petitioner NGOs Common Cause and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation and other parties Prashant Bhushan, M.N.Krishnamani and Kaleeswaram Rao seeking the appointment of an independent ombudsman to over-see the compliance of the Madhvan Committee guidelines.

He said that it was for the democratically elected government to decide “how much, where and how” it should spend on publicising its policies and making people aware of its programmes touching different aspects of their life.

Rohatgi said that there was a constitutional framework overseeing the government spending which are approved by the parliament and audited by the CAG.

He said that a government advertisement does not become political merely because it carries the photographs of the prime minister or the minister concerned. It is for the democratically elected government to make the expenditure, Rohtagi said.

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel February 18, 2015 11:50