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Big Picture- SC’s Curb on Government Ads

  • IASbaba
  • May 17, 2015
  • 4
Rajya Sabha-Big Picture
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SC’s Curb on Govt. Ads: – Pros and Cons

  • The Supreme Court has barred using pictures in government advertisements except for the pictures of President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India.
  • No other government’s personality can be used in government ads as the court felt that it is encouraging personality cults at the government expense.
  • Holding that the government advertisements in connection with an event along with the photograph of a state or party functionary has a tendency of associating that individual with the achievements sought to highlighted, the court has said that such media blitz has a potential of developing the personality cult around such state functionary.
  • The court has further said that the advertisements issued to commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the Father of the Nation would carry the photograph of the departed leader.
  • The judgment was based on petitions filed by NGOs. Two NGOs had approached the court seeking directions to restrain the central and state governments from using public funds on government advertisements that were primarily intended to project individual functionaries of the government or the party in power.
  • The regulations are based on the recommendations of a committee headed by eminent academician Professor N Madhava Menon, which was formed by the court last year.
  • The Court accepted all but three of its suggestions. It refused to appoint an ombudsman to deal with complaints of violations, instead asking the Centre to form a three-member panel to ensure compliance and giving it the liberty to nominate the members.
  • It also refused to order special audits and did not restrict the government from issuing ads on the eve of elections.
  • To iron out issues regarding implementation of its directions and compliance, the court said the Centre will constitute a three-member body of ombudsmen, comprising persons with unimpeachable impartiality who have excelled in their fields.
  • It is observed that when the judiciary and the executive are already engaged in a turf war over judicial appointment following the enactment of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, the verdict is bound to be viewed as yet another example of judicial activism.
  • Critics are of the opinion that the decision of the Supreme Court impinges on the right of other leaders to connect with their people and militates against India’s healthy federalism.

Mains Questions:

  1. The Supreme Court’s decision to impose restrictions on government advertisements is seriously flawed. Critically comment.
  2. Is the court unaware of the existence of a body such as the Comptroller and Auditor General, whose job it is to point out wasteful expenditure to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament? Comment with regards to Supreme Court’s curb on Government ads.

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