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Push states to name panels to regulate ads, I&B told

A Supreme Court mandated panel on the propriety of government advertisements has urged the I&B ministry to tell all states to have dedicated committees to regulate content in government advertisement, as mandated by the SC in 2016.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 09.12 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court mandated panel on the propriety of government advertisements, led by former Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat, after its four meetings has urged the I&B ministry to get all States to have dedicated committees to regulate content in government advertisement, as mandated by the Supreme Court in 2016.

The panel has now written to the ministry asking for States to given a "strict deadline to respond to the SC orders or be treated as in contempt of court."

"The I&B ministry should give time limit to States to confirm the status of the content regulation committees, as indicated by the SC in April 2016. If the States do not either set up the committee or entrust the Central level committee with the responsibility, it may be construed as a contempt of the SC," the committee's note said.

The committee has observed that except, Chattisgarh and Nagaland, no State has responded to SC guidelines.

The panel has Prasar Bharati member Ashok Kumar Tandon, advertising veteran Ramesh Narayan and additional director general of the Bureau of Communication Maushumi Chakravarty

In the meetings of the committee till now, complaints regarding AAP government for its advertisements on odd-even scheme and free bus rides for women, former BJP CMs Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh for their election campaign advertisements in 2018 and Minister Nitin Gadkari for using his photograph in the publicity advertisements for his ministry's projects have been taken up by the panel.

Replies have been sought from all the governments, a panel member said.

The I&B ministry had last month written to all the States to confirm the "constitution of a three-member committee to regulate the content of government advertisements," and inform the ministry of the same.

The Rawat-led committee was supposed to meeting last week but owing to the COVID-19 spread, it had postponed its meeting.

In its next meeting, it is expected to take the matter forward. "The panel could decide to put an embargo on ads till a particular State replies to the clarifications sought.

The States can also entrust the committee with the responsibility, and the panel members can expedite the hearing of complaints, without writing lengthy emails," the agenda of the meeting said.

In an order delivered in May 2015, the Supreme Court had laid down the guidelines for government advertisements. It had stated that a government advertisement campaign should “not be directed at promoting political interests of a party."

The recommendations also prohibit any government advertisement from mentioning the ruling party by its name, glorifying anyone except the President, Prime Minister or Chief Justice of India, or attacking the views or actions of opposition parties and including a party symbol or logo in the advertisement.

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