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Saturday, April 26, 2014

PIL- using public funds for advertising in a manner so as to project the personalities, parties or particular governments and for laying down binding guidelines - DAVP guidelines not suitable to deal with situation - Apex court appointed a committee to that effect = Common Cause .... Petitioner (s) Versus Union of India .... Respondent(s)= 2014 ( April.Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41450

PIL- using  public  funds  for  advertising  in  a manner  so  as  to  project  the  personalities,   parties   or   particular governments and for laying down binding guidelines - DAVP guidelines not suitable to deal with situation - Apex court appointed a committee to that effect = 
These
petitions have  been  brought  as  a  class  action  by  certain  registered
societies viz., Common Cause  and  Centre  for  Public  Interest  Litigation
seeking a writ in the nature of mandamus restraining the Union of India  and
all the State Governments from using  public  funds  for  advertising  in  a
manner  so  as  to  project  the  personalities,   parties   or   particular
governments and for laying down binding guidelines which  will  prevent  the
abuse of public funds by such advertising.=

Thus, it is vividly  clear  that
the DAVP guidelines, which are available in the  public  domain,  only  deal
with the eligibility and empanelment of  the  newspapers/journals  or  other
media, their rates of payment, and  such  like  matters.  Besides,  it  only
specifies that in releasing advertisement to newspapers/journals,  the  DAVP
would not take into account the political affiliation or editorial  policies
of newspapers/journals.  Hence, it is evident that there  is  no  policy  or
guideline to regulate  the  content  of  Government  advertisements  and  to
exclude the possibility of any mala fide use or misuse of  public  funds  on
advertisements  in  order  to  gain  political  mileage  by  the   political
establishment.=
There are five principles laid down in Guidelines On  Information  and
Advertising Campaigns by Australian  Government  Departments  and  Agencies,
which will be applicable to all Government advertising campaigns.
Principle 1: Campaigns should be relevant to government responsibilities.
Principle 2: Campaign materials should be presented in an  objective,  fair,
              and accessible manner and be designed to meet the  objectives
              of the campaign.
Principle 3: Campaign materials should be  objective  and  not  directed  at
              promoting party political interests.
Principle 4: Campaigns should be justified and undertaken in  an  efficient,
              effective and relevant manner.
Principle 5: Campaigns must comply with legal requirements  and  procurement
              policies and procedures.

24)    In  these   circumstances,   conceding   that   the   existing   DAVP
policy/guidelines do not govern the issues raised in  these  writ  petitions
and do not lay down any criteria  for  the  advertisements  to  qualify  for
“public purpose” as opposed to partisan ends and  political  mileage,  there
is a need for substantive guidelines to be issued by this  Court  until  the
legislature enacts a law in  this  regard.  The  petitioners  through  their
written submissions have proposed guidelines in  this  regard,  however,  on
going through the same, we  recognized  that  the  petitioners  herein  have
basically adopted the proposed guidelines verbatim from  other  jurisdiction
viz., Australia. Accordingly, we do not think that it  will  be  appropriate
for this Court to adopt the guidelines of other country without  application
of mind and appreciation of situation in our country.

25)   Keeping in mind that the time available to this Court is  limited  and
the subject matter for which guidelines are to be framed is sensational  and
significant, we deem it proper  to  constitute  a  Committee  consisting  of
three members to undertake the task of suggesting guidelines to  this  Court
after an intricate study of all the best practices in public  advertisements
in different  jurisdictions  and  to  submit  the  same  before  this  Court
preferably within a period of three months. The Committee  will  consist  of
the following members:

1)    Prof. (Dr.) N.R. Madhava Menon,
      former Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal

2)    Mr. T.K. Viswanathan,
      former Secretary General, Lok Sabha

3)           Mr.        Ranjit        Kumar,         Senior         Advocate


In order to coordinate and render assistance to the  Committee,  we  appoint
the  Secretary,  Ministry  of  Information  and   Broadcasting   as   Member
Secretary.

26)   The matter be posted for further direction before this  Court  on  the
expiry of three months from today along  with  the  suggestions  as  may  be
submitted by the Committee pursuant to this judgment.

2014 ( April.Part ) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41450
P SATHASIVAM, RANJAN GOGOI, N.V. RAMANA
                                    REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                   1 WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 13 OF 2003


 Common Cause                                 .... Petitioner (s)

            Versus

Union of India                                               ....
Respondent(s)

                                      2


                                   3 WITH


4


                   5 WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 197 OF 2004



                               J U D G M E N T
P.Sathasivam, CJI.

1)    These writ petitions are filed in public interest,  under  Article  32
of the Constitution of India, to throw light on the enduring  issue  of  use
of publicly funded government advertising campaigns as  de  facto  political
advertising canvass which  is  violative  of  Articles  14  and  21  of  the
Constitution. With the increasing awareness and emphasis on transparency  in
the governance of the country, the public senses the need  to  restrain  the
misuse  of  public  funds  for  furthering  the  political  motives.   These
petitions have  been  brought  as  a  class  action  by  certain  registered
societies viz., Common Cause  and  Centre  for  Public  Interest  Litigation
seeking a writ in the nature of mandamus restraining the Union of India  and
all the State Governments from using  public  funds  for  advertising  in  a
manner  so  as  to  project  the  personalities,   parties   or   particular
governments and for laying down binding guidelines which  will  prevent  the
abuse of public funds by such advertising.

2)    The immediate cause of filing these writ petitions in  2003  and  2004
respectively is stated to be the numerous full page  advertisements  in  the
print media and repeated advertisements  in  the  electronic  media  by  the
Central Government, State Governments and  its  agencies,  instrumentalities
including public sector undertakings which project  political  personalities
and proclaim  the  achievements  of  particular  political  governments  and
parties at the expense of the public exchequer.  It is  also  the  assertion
of the petitioners that such advertisements become more blatant and  assumes
alarming proportions just before the announcement of the general  elections.
 Accordingly, it is the  stand  of  the  petitioners  that  such  deliberate
misuse of public funds by the Central Government, State  Governments,  their
Departments and instrumentalities of the State is destructive  to  the  rule
of law.  Further, it allows the parties in power to  patronize  publications
and media organizations affiliated to the parties in power and also  to  get
favourable  media  coverage  by  selective  dispersal  of  the   advertising
bonanza.

3)    It is projected that the  use  of  public  funds  for  advertising  by
public  authorities  to  project  particular   personalities,   parties   or
governments  without  any  attendant  public  interest  is  mala  fide   and
arbitrary and amounts to violation of Article  14  of  the  Constitution  of
India.  It is also highlighted that use  and  wastage  of  public  funds  in
political  motivated   advertisements   designed   to   project   particular
personality, party  or  Government  by  wasting  public  money  is  also  in
violation of the fundamental rights under Article 21  because  of  diversion
of resources by the governments  for  partisan  interests.  Such  violation,
therefore, attracts the remedy under  Article  32  for  the  enforcement  of
fundamental rights of the citizens.  It is  the  stand  of  the  petitioners
herein that a writ of  mandamus  in  such  a  situation,  if  it  is  to  be
effective, needs to be accompanied by guidelines regulating the same and  we
accede to the stand of the petitioners.

4)    On the other hand, Union of India and  various  States  submitted  the
necessity  of  advertisement  in  the  print  and   electronic   media   for
dissemination of information in a democratic setup and further  pointed  out
that since similar issues have already been raised earlier  and  adjudicated
upon by this Court as also some High Courts such as Bombay and Delhi,  hence
akin grounds should not  be  entertained  in  these  petitions.  With  these
averments and in the light of the earlier decision of this Court in  Manzoor
Ali Khan & Anr. vs. U.O.I. & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil)  No.  83  of  2005]
decided on 10.01.2011, the respondents herein prayed for dismissal  of  both
the writ petitions.

5) Heard Ms. Meera Bhatia, Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  learned  counsel  for  the
petitioners and  Mr.  K.  Radhakrishnan,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the
respondent-Union of India.  We also heard  respective  counsel  for  various
States.



Discussion:

6)     Let  us,  at  the  outset,  consider  the  objection  raised  by  the
respondents regarding the maintainability of the petitions primarily  before
we would deliberate on the contentions on the merits.

7)    In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the  Union  of  India,  it
has been stated that the issues raised  in  the  present  petitions  are  no
longer res integra but are in fact res judicata  in  the  light  of  earlier
decision of this Court  in  Manzoor  Ali  Khan  (supra)  and  other  matters
decided by the High Court of Delhi in Umesh Mohan Sethi vs. Union  of  India
& Anr. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 2926 of 2012] decided  on  12.12.2012  and
the Bombay High Court in Laxman Moreshwar Mahurkar vs.  Balkrishna  Jagnnath
Kinikar and Ors. AIR 1961 Bom 167.

8)     In  response  to  the  objection  raised,  learned  counsel  for  the
petitioners submitted  that  the  principle  of  constructive  res  judicata
cannot be made applicable in each and every public interest  litigation  and
relied on the judgment of this Court in  Rural  Litigation  and  Entitlement
Kendra vs. State of UP (1989) Supp (1) SCC 504, wherein it was held that:-

      “16.  ...We may not be taken to have said  that  for  public  interest
      litigations, procedural laws do not apply. At the same time it has  to
      be remembered that every technicality in the  procedural  law  is  not
      available as a defence when a matter of grave public importance is for
      consideration before the Court. Even if it is said that  there  was  a
      final order, in a dispute of  this  type  it  would  be  difficult  to
      entertain the plea of res judicata…”

Thus, in the light  of  the  above,  learned  counsel  for  the  petitioners
submitted that the decision rendered in Manzoor Ali Khan (supra) should  not
prevent  this  Court  from  deciding  the  issues  raised  in  the   present
petitions.

9)    Further, it is the stand of the petitioners that a petition  filed  in
public interest cannot be held to be an adversarial system  of  adjudication
and the petitioners in their case merely brought it to  the  notice  of  the
Court as to how and in what manner the public interest is being  jeopardized
by arbitrary and capricious action of the authorities  and,  therefore,  the
principle of constructive res judicata cannot be  made  applicable  in  each
and  every  public  interest  litigation,  irrespective  of  the  nature  of
litigation itself and its impact  on  the  society  and  the  larger  public
interest,  which  is  being  served.   Placing  reliance  on  the  reasoning
rendered in  the  aforesaid  verdict  the  objection  raised  herein  stands
overruled.

10)   In the light of this, now  let  us  examine  the  submissions  of  the
petitioners on merits. The decision  of  this  Court  in  Manzoor  Ali  Khan
(supra) was based on two premises, firstly,  that  guideline  governing  the
same  subject  matter  already  exists  as  framed  by  the  Directorate  of
Advertising  and  Visual  Publicity  (DAVP)  as  well   as   Department   of
Information in each of the States and secondly, that the matter is  squarely
covered against the petitioners in view of the judgment of the  Bombay  High
Court in the case of Laxman Moreshwar Mahurkar (supra).  It is the stand  of
the petitioners that the DAVP guidelines relied upon by this  Court  in  the
Manzoor Ali Khan (supra) and by the respondents in its counter affidavit  in
the present case are irrelevant for the consideration of the  issues  raised
in the present writ petitions.  Further, it was submitted that the  decision
in Laxman Moreshwar Mahurkar (supra) is  clearly  distinguishable  with  the
facts and issues raised in  the  present  public  interest  litigation.   We
shall analyse both these grounds in detail in the ensuing paragraphs.

11)   Primarily, objection against admitting these writ petitions  was  that
there   exists   substantive   guidelines   regulating   the    Governments’
advertisements issued by the DAVP and thus the task of this  Court  will  be
rendered infructuous. Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, learned senior counsel  for  the
Union of India reiterated  the  stand  taken  by  the  Government  in  their
counter-affidavit filed in the year 2003 as well as in 2013 and  brought  to
our notice the  New  Advertisement  Policy  [with  effect  from  02.10.2007]
formulated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, DAVP,  which  is
the nodal agency of the Government of India  for  advertisement  by  various
Ministries and organizations of Government of India including public  sector
undertakings and autonomous bodies.   It  is  seen  from  the  Advertisement
Policy of 2007 that the primary objective of the  Government  is  to  secure
the widest possible coverage of the  intended  content  or  message  through
newspapers and  journals  of  current  affairs  as  well  as  Science,  Art,
Literature, Sports,  Films,  Cultural  Affairs,  etc.   The  Policy  further
states that in releasing advertisements to  newspapers/journals,  DAVP  does
not take into account the political affiliation  or  editorial  policies  of
newspapers/journals.  However, it states that  DAVP  would  avoid  releasing
advertisements to  newspapers/journals,  which  incite  or  tend  to  incite
communal passion, preach violence, offend the sovereignty and  integrity  of
India or socially accepted norms  of  public  decency  and  behaviour.   The
Policy dated 02.10.2007 supersedes all earlier orders and the  same  is  the
New Advertisement Policy of  the  Government  of  India.   The  said  Policy
contains 27 clauses.  A reading of these clauses shows that  the  Government
advertisements  are  not  intended  to  give  financial  assistance  to  the
newspapers/journals.  DAVP maintains a list of newspapers/journals  approved
for    release    of    advertisements     by     empanelling     acceptable
newspapers/journals.  It further  reinforces  that  due  care  is  taken  to
empanel newspapers/journals having readership  from  different  sections  of
the society in different parts of the country.  The  Policy  also  makes  it
clear  that  all  Central  Ministries/Departments/attached  and  Subordinate
offices/field offices shall route their  advertisements,  including  display
advertisements, through DAVP.  It also maintains a Panel Advisory  Committee
(PAC)  for  considering  applications  of  newspapers/journals   for   being
empanelled for publishing Government advertisements.  This  Committee  shall
be headed by the Director General, DAVP and  shall  include  the  Additional
Director General (Media & Communication)/Deputy Director  General  (Media  &
Communication)   in   the   Press   Information    Bureau    (PIB),    Press
Registrar/Deputy  Press  Registrar   and   Director/Deputy   Secretary/Under
Secretary in the Ministry  of  Information  and  Broadcasting  dealing  with
Print Media.  The Committee will also have one representative each from  the
Association of big, medium and small  newspapers.   The  recommendations  of
the PAC as accepted by the DG, DAVP regarding  empanelment  of  a  newspaper
shall be final.  It also shows that all  empanelled  newspapers/publications
will be asked to enter into a rate contract,  which  will  be  valid  for  a
period of three years.  It further provides  that  the  rate  structure  for
payment against advertisements released by DAVP will be worked  out  as  per
the recommendations of the Rate Structure Committee.  The  rates  depend  on
certified circulation of a newspaper.

12)   A perusal of various  clauses  in  the  Advertisement  Policy  of  the
Government  of  India  dated  02.10.2007  as  elaborated  in  the  aforesaid
paragraph shows that all the norms as mentioned in various  clauses  are  to
be adhered to in overall media strategy of the  Ministries  and  Departments
to ensure maximum coverage at optimum cost. Thus, it is vividly  clear  that
the DAVP guidelines, which are available in the  public  domain,  only  deal
with the eligibility and empanelment of  the  newspapers/journals  or  other
media, their rates of payment, and  such  like  matters.  Besides,  it  only
specifies that in releasing advertisement to newspapers/journals,  the  DAVP
would not take into account the political affiliation or editorial  policies
of newspapers/journals.  Hence, it is evident that there  is  no  policy  or
guideline to regulate  the  content  of  Government  advertisements  and  to
exclude the possibility of any mala fide use or misuse of  public  funds  on
advertisements  in  order  to  gain  political  mileage  by  the   political
establishment.

13)   As far as the second objection with regard  to  applicability  of  the
decision  in  Laxman  Moreshwar  Moharkar  (supra)  is  concerned,  we  have
analyzed the same and are of the cogent view that the said decision  of  the
Bombay High Court is clearly  distinguishable  from  the  facts  and  issues
raised  in  the  present  petitions.  The   aforesaid   case   pertains   to
applicability or non-applicability of a particular rule viz.,  Rule  189  of
the Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules and Rules for the Conduct  of
the Legal Affairs of the Government whereas the issues raised in these  writ
petitions are not pursuant to violation of any specific rule or  law  rather
a question of public importance has been raised as  to  whether  the  State,
which is duty bound to allocate its resources for the maximum  public  good,
can cavalierly spend huge sums of public funds in order to derive  political
mileage. Thus, the ratio laid down in Laxman Moreshwar Moharkar  (supra)  is
not relevant for consideration of issues raised in these writ petitions.

14)   Learned senior counsel for the respondent - UOI  also  made  reference
to the decision in Umesh Mohan Sethi (supra) rendered on 12.12.2012  by  the
Delhi High Court which pertained to similar issues as raised in  these  writ
petitions to substantiate their stand. In Umesh Mohan Sethi (supra), it  was
held that if the Government purports to spend money for a purpose  which  it
characterizes as a public purpose though in  point  of  fact  it  is  not  a
public purpose, the proper place to criticize the action of  the  Government
would be the legislature or the Appropriation Committee and Courts  are  not
the forum in which the Government’s action could be sought to be  criticized
or restrained. Besides, the Delhi High  Court  relied  on  the  decision  of
Manzoor Ali Khan (supra) rendered by this Court and dismissed  the  petition
as misconceived.

15)   Learned counsel for the petitioners responded to  this  contention  by
asserting  that  any  government  activity  has  to  satisfy  the  test   of
reasonableness and public interest and while dealing with public  funds  and
property, public interest is of  paramount  consideration.  In  Kasturi  Lal
Lakshmi Reddy vs. State of J&K (1980) 4  SCC  1,  this  Court  has  held  as
under:-

      “12. …Any action taken by the Government with a view to giving effect
      to any one or more of  the  Directive  Principles  would  ordinarily,
      subject to any constitutional or legal  inhibitions  or  other  over-
      riding considerations, qualify  for  being  regarded  as  reasonable,
      while an action which is inconsistent  with  or  runs  counter  to  a
      Directive Principle would incur the reproach of being unreasonable.”

                         ***          ***        ***

      “14. Where any Governmental  action  fails  to  satisfy  the  test  of
      reasonableness and public interest discussed above and is found to  be
      wanting in the quality of reasonableness or lacking in the element  of
      public interest, it would be liable to be struck down as  invalid.  It
      must follow as a necessary corollary from this  proposition  that  the
      Government cannot act in a manner which would benefit a private  party
      at the cost, of the State; such an action would be  both  unreasonable
      and contrary to public interest…..”




16)   In Shrilekha Vidyarthi vs. State of UP (1991) 1 SCC  212,  this  Court
unequivocally  rejected  the  argument  based  on  the  theory  of  absolute
discretion of the administrative authorities and immunity  of  their  action
from judicial review and observed:

      “It can no longer be doubted at this point of time that Article of the
      Constitution of India applies also to matters of  Governmental  policy
      and if the policy or any action of the government, even in contractual
      matters, fails to satisfy the test  of  reasonableness,  it  would  be
      unconstitutional.”

Similar  reasoning  was  rendered  in  Ramana   Dayaram   Shetty   vs.   The
International Airport Authority of India (1979) 3 SCR 1014 and in Col.  A.S.
Sangwan vs. Union of India (1980) Supp SCC  559.  Hence,  it  was  submitted
that judicial review of Government policies is permissible if  it  does  not
satisfy the test of reasonableness and against the public interest.

17)   Although, as asserted by the respondents herein that  it  is  not  the
prima facie jurisdiction of  this  Court  to  examine  what  constitutes  as
“public purpose” or not however, as per judicial precedents in  Kasturi  Lal
Lakshmi Reddy (supra) and other case laws as stated  above,  this  Court  is
duty bound to interfere whenever the Government acts in a manner,  which  is
unreasonable and contrary to public interest. In  succinct,  the  Government
cannot act in a manner, which would benefit a private party at the  cost  of
the State; such an action would be both unreasonable and contrary to  public
interest.   The   present   writ   petitions   challenge   the    Government
advertisements of political nature at the cost of the  public  exchequer  on
the ground that they  are  in  violation  of  Articles  14  and  21  of  the
Constitution. We shall examine and scrutinize the situation as portrayed  by
the petitioners as to whether there is need for specific  guidelines  to  be
issued by this Court to regulate the same.

18)   The petitioners further submitted  that  advertisement  campaigns  are
undertaken ostensibly to advertise  certain  public  works  and  almost  all
these advertisements contain photographs  of  the  Ministers  and  important
political personalities of the Government, which  clearly  show  that  these
advertisement are framed for the purpose of  highlighting  the  achievements
of the incumbent government and aim  to  create  an  impression  that  those
particular political personalities were directly responsible  for  providing
public benefits to the people. In succinct, the use  of  public  office  and
public funds  for  personal,  political  or  partisan  purposes  is  clearly
malafide, illegal and not permissible under the Constitution.  Thus,  it  is
the stand of the petitioners that  expenditure  on  such  advertisements  is
blatant  misuse  of  public  funds  by   the   Central   Government,   State
Governments, their departments and instrumentalities  of  the  State  as  it
fosters wastage of scarce  funds  of  the  exchequer  in  promoting  private
partisan interests as against public interest that  is  destructive  of  the
rule of law.

19)   Conversely,  the  Government  of  India,  in  their  counter-affidavit
claimed that 60% of  the  advertisements  released  by  the  Directorate  of
Advertising   and   Visual   Publicity   (DAVP)   on   behalf   of   various
Ministries/Departments/Public Sector  Undertakings  (PSUs)  of  the  Central
Government relate to  classified  or  display/classified  category  such  as
UPSC/SSC or recruitment, tender and public  notices,  etc.  The  respondents
asserted  that  government  advertisements  sometime  carry  messages   from
national  leaders,  Ministers  and  dignitaries   accompanied   with   their
photographs.   However,  it  is  their  stand  that  the  purpose  of   such
advertisements is not to give personal publicity to the leaders  or  to  the
political parties they belong to rather the objective is to let  the  people
know  and  have  authentic   information   about   the   progress   of   the
programmes/performance of the government  they  elected  and  form  informed
opinions, which is one of the fundamental rights  of  the  citizens  in  our
democracy as enshrined in the Constitution  of  India.  The  composition  of
advertisements issued by DAVP during the years 2000-01, 2001-02 and  2002-03
in respect of  various  Ministries/Departments  is  given  in  the  form  of
annexure to the counter-affidavit.  It is the stand of the  Government  that
the objective of displaying the advertisements issued by DAVP on  behalf  of
the  Ministries/Departments  of  the  Government  of  India  is  to   create
awareness  among  the  people  about  various   policies,   programmes   and
achievements of the Government  and  advertising  is  an  integral  part  of
dissemination of information, which is essential in a democracy.

20)    The  contentions  raised  by  the  respondents  are  based  on  clear
principle that is bound to be accepted on the face of  it.  The  stand  that
Government advertising is a mode for the Government to  disseminate  to  the
members of the public, of information about a government program, policy  or
initiative, or about any public health or safety or  other  matter(s),  that
is funded by or on behalf of a Government agency, is an  outright  fact  and
is a must in  our  democratic  setup.  This  Court,  in  its  Constitutional
wisdom, understands that it is only through  such  advertisements  that  the
Government communicates with its citizens which plays an important  role  in
efficiently and effectively achieving the goals of public policy.

21)   At the  same  time,  the  stand  of  the  petitioners  in  these  writ
petitions is also not entirely misconceived.  Since  the  primary  cause  of
government advertisement is to use public funds  to  inform  the  public  of
their  rights,  obligations,  and  entitlements  as  well  as   to   explain
Government policies,  programs,  services  and  initiatives,  however,  when
these requisites are not fulfilled in a Government  advertisement  than  the
whole purpose would be frustrated. The petitioners  through  annexures  have
brought to the notice  of  this  Court  numerous  Government  advertisements
released by the Central Government,  State  Governments,  their  departments
and  instrumentalities  of  the  State  which  fail   to   disseminate   any
information  to  the  public  of  their  rights  and  entitlements  in   the
Government  policies  rather  only  glorifies  the  accomplishments   of   a
particular Government.  The  petitioners  herein  have  disputed  only  such
advertisements, which they plead to  be  wastage  of  public  exchequer  for
political  mileage.  While  the  boundary  lines  can  blur,  we   need   to
distinguish  between  the  advertisements  that  are  part   of   Government
messaging  and  daily  business  and  advertisements  that  are  politically
motivated. It is yet further pleaded that even the  Election  Commission  of
India though had expressed concern but could not do anything owing  to  lack
of jurisdiction in the matter.

22)   Although this issue of concern may be new to India but not  for  other
countries. Governments around the world spend huge amount  of  money  yearly
for advertisements in their local media  and  most  of  the  countries  have
faced similar fate  of  situation  as  portrayed  in  these  petitions.  The
solution  to  this  crisis  was  arrived  at  by  framing   the   Government
advertising guidelines, which set out the policies and processes that  apply
to  Government  advertisement.  Few  countries  which   adopted   Government
advertising policies are as under:-

Australia

Australia  adopted  new  policy  to  regulate  Government  advertisement  in
response to nearly a decade of abuse, during which  public  advertising  was
corruptly  used  to  promote  a  partisan  agenda.  The  focus   of   policy
recommendations is to depoliticize public advertising, prevent  conflict  of
interest, and devolve power in such a  way  that  no  person  or  group  can
easily exploit public advertising funds for individual or political gains.

Canada

Canada also has  strict  conflict  of  interest  guidelines,  which  promote
transparency, accountability  and  separation  of  authority  to  discourage
abuse of public advertising funds for  individual,  financial  or  political
gains.

Similar policies exist in almost all developed countries to check the  abuse
of Government advertisements for private benefits.

23)   There are five principles laid down in Guidelines On  Information  and
Advertising Campaigns by Australian  Government  Departments  and  Agencies,
which will be applicable to all Government advertising campaigns.
Principle 1: Campaigns should be relevant to government responsibilities.
Principle 2: Campaign materials should be presented in an  objective,  fair,
              and accessible manner and be designed to meet the  objectives
              of the campaign.
Principle 3: Campaign materials should be  objective  and  not  directed  at
              promoting party political interests.
Principle 4: Campaigns should be justified and undertaken in  an  efficient,
              effective and relevant manner.
Principle 5: Campaigns must comply with legal requirements  and  procurement
              policies and procedures.

24)    In  these   circumstances,   conceding   that   the   existing   DAVP
policy/guidelines do not govern the issues raised in  these  writ  petitions
and do not lay down any criteria  for  the  advertisements  to  qualify  for
“public purpose” as opposed to partisan ends and  political  mileage,  there
is a need for substantive guidelines to be issued by this  Court  until  the
legislature enacts a law in  this  regard.  The  petitioners  through  their
written submissions have proposed guidelines in  this  regard,  however,  on
going through the same, we  recognized  that  the  petitioners  herein  have
basically adopted the proposed guidelines verbatim from  other  jurisdiction
viz., Australia. Accordingly, we do not think that it  will  be  appropriate
for this Court to adopt the guidelines of other country without  application
of mind and appreciation of situation in our country.

25)   Keeping in mind that the time available to this Court is  limited  and
the subject matter for which guidelines are to be framed is sensational  and
significant, we deem it proper  to  constitute  a  Committee  consisting  of
three members to undertake the task of suggesting guidelines to  this  Court
after an intricate study of all the best practices in public  advertisements
in different  jurisdictions  and  to  submit  the  same  before  this  Court
preferably within a period of three months. The Committee  will  consist  of
the following members:

1)    Prof. (Dr.) N.R. Madhava Menon,
      former Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal

2)    Mr. T.K. Viswanathan,
      former Secretary General, Lok Sabha

3)           Mr.        Ranjit        Kumar,         Senior         Advocate


In order to coordinate and render assistance to the  Committee,  we  appoint
the  Secretary,  Ministry  of  Information  and   Broadcasting   as   Member
Secretary.

26)   The matter be posted for further direction before this  Court  on  the
expiry of three months from today along  with  the  suggestions  as  may  be
submitted by the Committee pursuant to this judgment.
                                  .…….…………………………CJI.


                                       (P. SATHASIVAM)








                                    ………….…………………………J.


                                       (RANJAN GOGOI)






















                                  ………….…………………………J.


                                        (N.V. RAMANA)


NEW DELHI;
APRIL 23, 2014.
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