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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

writ to restrain the Union of India and all State Governments from using public funds on Government advertisements which are primarily intended to project individual functionaries of the Government or a political party. The writ petitioners have also prayed for laying down of appropriate guidelines by this Court to regulate Government action in the matter so as to prevent misuse/wastage of public funds in connection with such advertisements.We are, therefore, of the view that in departure to the views of the Committee which recommended permissibility of publication of the photographs of the President and Prime Minister of the country and Governor or Chief Minister of the State alongwith the advertisements, there should be an exception only in the case of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the country who may themselves decide the question. Advertisements issued to commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the father of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader. 24. Insofar as the recommendation with regard to the appointment of Ombudsman is concerned, we are of the view that for ironing out the creases that are bound to show from time to time in the implementation of the present directions and to oversee such implementation the government should constitute a three member body consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields. We could have but we refrain from naming the specific persons and leave the said exercise to be performed by the Union Government. 25. Insofar as performance/special audit is concerned, we do not feel the necessity of any such special audit inasmuch as the machinery available is adequate to ensure due performance as well as accountability and proper utilization of public money. 26. If Government advertisements adhere to the objects and parameters mentioned above we do not feel the necessity of imposing a special curb on government advertisements on the eve of the elections, as suggested by the Committee. 27. In an earlier part of the present order we had indicated the power of the purse that Government advertisements invariably involve. Needless to say the concepts of fairness and even dispensation to all media/publishing houses will have to be maintained by the Government be it at the Centre or the States. 28. We close the matters on the aforesaid note by approving and adopting the recommendations of the Committee except what has been specifically indicated above with regard to (1) publication of photographs of the Government functionaries and political leaders alongwith the advertisement(s). (2) appointment of an Ombudsman (3) the recommendation with regard to performance audit by each Ministry. (4) embargo on advertisements on the eve of the elections. 29. We also make it clear that the present directions issued under Article 142 of the Constitution cannot be comprehensive and there are several aspects of the matter which may have escaped our attention at this stage. In this regard, we would like to clarify that it is not the intention of the Court to attempt to lay down infallible and all comprehensive directions to cover the issue at hand. The gaps, if any, we are confident would be filled up by the executive arm of the government itself inasmuch as the attainment of constitutional goals and values enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution is the conjoint responsibility of the three organs of the State i.e. legislative, executive and the judiciary, as earlier discussed.

                                 REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 13 OF 2003

COMMON CAUSE                            ...PETITIONER (S)
                                   VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA                          ...RESPONDENT (S)

                                    WITH
                          W.P. (C) No. 197 of 2004
                                      &
                           W.P. (C) No.302 of 2012


                               J U D G M E N T

RANJAN GOGOI, J.

1.     Common  Cause  and  Centre  for  Public  Interest   Litigation,   two
registered bodies, have approached  this  Court  under  Article  32  of  the
Constitution seeking an appropriate writ to restrain the Union of India  and
all State Governments from using public funds on  Government  advertisements
which are primarily intended to  project  individual  functionaries  of  the
Government or a political party.  The writ petitioners have also prayed  for
laying down of appropriate guidelines by this Court to  regulate  Government
action in the matter so as to prevent  misuse/wastage  of  public  funds  in
connection with such advertisements.

2.    In  the  above  stated  writ  petitions  the  writ  petitioners  while
conceding the beneficial effect of government  advertisements  which  convey
necessary information to the citizens with regard  to  various  welfare  and
progressive measures as also their rights  and  entitlements,  however,  had
contended that in the  garb  of  communicating  with  the  people,  in  many
instances, undue political advantage and mileage is sought  to  be  achieved
by personifying individuals and  crediting  such  individuals  or  political
leaders (who are either from a political party or government  functionaries)
as  being responsible for various government  achievements  and  progressive
plans.  According to the petitioners such practice becomes  rampant  on  the
eve of the elections. Such advertisements not only result in  gross  wastage
of public  funds  but  constitute  misuse  of  governmental  powers  besides
derogating the fundamental rights of a large  section  of  the  citizens  as
guaranteed by Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

3.    The  writ  petitions,  filed  as  public  interest  litigations,  were
resisted by the Union of India primarily  on  the  ground  that  the  issues
sought  to  be  raised  pertain  to  governmental  policies  and   executive
decisions in respect of which it may not be appropriate for  this  Court  to
lay down binding guidelines under Article 142.  The decision of  this  Court
in Manzoor Ali Khan & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors.[1] and a  pronouncement
of the Delhi High Court in Umesh Mohan Sethi Vs. Union of  India  &  Anr.[2]
have been relied upon by the Union in support of its above stated stand.

4.    The issues arising in the  writ  petitions  were  considered  by  this
Court  in  an  earlier  round  of  exhaustive  hearings.  By   order   dated
23.04.2014, this Court, on consideration of the  respective  stands  of  the
parties and by  relying  on  the  principles  laid  down  in  the  decisions
specifically referred to in the  aforesaid  order  dated  23.04.2014,  inter
alia, held that there is  no  dispute  that  “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,
programmes, services and initiatives.”  It was further held that  only  such
government advertisements which do not  fulfil  the  above  requisites  will
fall  foul  of  the  area  of  permissible   advertisements.    This   Court
acknowledged  the  fact  that  the   dividing   line   between   permissible
advertisements that are a part of government  messaging  and  advertisements
that are  “politically  motivated”  may  at  times  gets  blurred.   As  the
materials laid before the Court by the parties were found to  be  inadequate
for the purpose of evolving what would be  the  best  practices  keeping  in
view the prevailing scenario in other jurisdictions across the  globe,  this
Court felt the necessity of  constituting  a  Committee  consisting  of  (1)
Prof. (Dr.) N.R. Madhava Menon, former Director, National Judicial  Academy,
Bhopal (2) Mr. T.K. Viswanathan, former Secretary  General,  Lok  Sabha  and
(3) Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Senior Advocate to go into the  matter  and  submit  a
report to the Court.

5.    In  terms  of  the  order  of  this  Court,  the  Committee  was  duly
constituted and after full deliberations in the matter, a  report  had  been
submitted by the Committee suggesting a set of guidelines  for  approval  of
this Court.  It is the plea of  the  petitioner  that  the  said  guidelines
should be approved by this Court and directions be issued under Article  142
of the Constitution of India for enforcement of the  said  guidelines  until
an appropriate legislation in this regard is  brought  into  effect  by  the
Parliament.

6.    The contents of  the  guidelines  suggested  by  the  court  appointed
Committee may be usefully extracted hereinbelow:-
                    “GUIDELINES ON CONTENT REGULATION OF
                            GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING

These Guidelines shall  be  called  the  Government  Advertisement  (Content
Regulation) Guidelines 2014.

They shall come into force with effect from......


2.    APPLICATION:

(1)   These Guidelines shall apply to all  Government  advertisements  other
than Classified Advertisements.

(2)   These  Guidelines  shall  apply  to  the  content  of  all  Government
Advertising till a suitable legislation is  enacted  by  the  Government  to
prevent the misuse of public  funds  on  advertisements  to  gain  political
mileage as distinct from legitimate Government messaging.

(3)   These Guidelines shall apply to all –

      (a)   institutions of Government;

      (b)   public sector undertakings;

(c)   local bodies and  other  autonomous  bodies/organizations  established
under a Statute.



      3.    DEFINITIONS:

In these Guidelines unless the context otherwise requires:

 “Classified Advertisements” include public  notices,  tenders,  recruitment
notices, statutory notifications.


“DAVP Guidelines” means  the  existing  guidelines  of  the  Directorate  of
Advertising  and  Visual  Publicity  of  the  Ministry  of  Information  and
Broadcasting dealing with the eligibility  and  empanelment  procedures  and
rates of payment and such other matters;

“Government” means Central  Government,  State  Governments/Union  Territory
Administrations and also includes local bodies, public  sector  undertakings
and other autonomous bodies/organisations established under a Statute.

“Government advertising” means any message, conveyed and  paid  for  by  the
government for placement in media such  as  newspapers,  television,  radio,
internet, cinema and such other,  media  but  does  not  include  classified
advertisements; and includes both copy (written  text/audio)  and  creatives
(visuals/video/multi  media)  put  out  in  print,  electronic,  outdoor  or
digital media.

OBJECTS:

      The objects of these Guidelines are:-

to  prevent  arbitrary  use  of  public  funds  for  advertising  by  public
authorities to project  particular  personalities,  parties  or  governments
without any attendant public interest.


neither to belittle the need nor to deny the  authority  of  the  Union  and
State Governments and its agencies to disseminate information necessary  for
public to know on the policies and programmes  of  Government  but  only  to
exclude the possibility of any  misuse  of  public  funds  on  advertisement
campaigns  in  order  to   gain   political   mileage   by   the   political
establishment;

to address the gap in the existing DAVP Guidelines which only deal with  the
eligibility and empanelment of newspapers/journals  or  other  media,  their
rates of payment, and such like matters and  not  on  how  to  regulate  the
content of Government advertisements;

to  ensure  that  “all   government   activities   satisfy   the   test   of
reasonableness and public interest, particularly while dealing  with  public
funds and property”;

to  ensure  that  government  messaging  is  well  co-ordinate,  effectively
managed in the best democratic traditions and is responsive to  the  diverse
information needs of the public.



5.    GOVERNMENT ADVERTISEMENT TO INFORM CITIZENS

Subject to these Guidelines Government may place advertisements or  purchase
advertising space or time in any  medium  to  inform  citizens  about  their
rights  and  responsibilities,  about   government   policies,   programmes,
services or initiatives, or about dangers or risks to public health,  safety
or the environment.

6.    THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF CONTENT REGULATION:

      While placing advertisements or purchasing advertising  space  in  any
media, the Government shall be guided by the following principles, namely:-

Advertising Campaigns to be related to Government responsibilities:



While it is the duty of the Government to provide the  public  with  timely,
accurate, clear, objective and  complete  information  about  its  policies,
programmes, services and initiatives since the public has a  right  to  such
information, the content of government advertisements should be relevant  to
the governments’  constitutional  and  legal  obligations  as  well  as  the
citizens’ rights and entitlements.


Advertisement materials should  be  presented  in  an  objective,  fair  and
accessible manner and be designed to meet the objectives of the campaign:

The material shall be presented in a fair and objective manner and shall  be
capable of fulfilling the intended objectives;

Government shall exercise due caution while deciding  the  content,  layout,
size and design of the message including the target area  and  the  creative
requirement of the intended  communication  in  order  to  ensure  that  the
maximum reach and impact are achieved in the most cost effective manner;

Content of advertisement must enable the recipients of  the  information  to
distinguish between facts and analysis and where  information  is  presented
as a fact, it should be accurate and verifiable;

Pre-existing policies, products, services  and  initiatives  should  not  be
presented as new unless there has been a substantial change or  modification
of such policies, products or services;

Content of  advertisement  should  provide  information  in  a  manner  that
accommodates  special  needs  of   disadvantaged   individuals   or   groups
identified as being within the target audience;

Multiple formats may be used to ensure equal access;

Every effort shall be made to pre-test the material in case of  large  scale
campaign with target audiences.



Advertisement materials should be objective and not  directed  at  promoting
political interests of ruling party:

Display material must be presented in objective  language  and  be  free  of
political argument or partisan standpoint:


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.

Advertisement materials must not –

 Mention the party in government by name;

 directly attack the views or actions of others in opposition;


 include party political symbol or logo or flag;

 aim to influence public  support  for  a  political  party,  candidate  for
election; or

 refer to link to the websites of political parties or politicians.

Government advertisement materials should  avoid  photographs  of  political
leaders and if it is felt  essential  for  effective  Government  messaging,
only the  photographs  of  the  President/Prime  Minster  or  Governor/Chief
Minister should be used;


Government advertisements shall not be used at patronizing media  houses  or
aimed at receiving favourable reporting for the party or person in power


Advertisement Campaigns be justified and  undertaken  in  an  efficient  and
cost-effective manner:


Since it is the responsibility of government  to  safeguard  the  trust  and
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of public  services  and  hence
it should be the policy of governments to use public funds in such a  manner
as to obtain maximum value for taxpayers’ money;


Advertisement Campaigns must be justified and  undertaken  in  an  efficient
and cost-effective manner;


The Government shall –


decide and announce beforehand, a list of personalities on  whose  birth  or
death  anniversaries,  advertisements  could  be  released  every  year  and
specify which Ministry/Department could release the same;



avoid the issue of multiple  advertisements  by  different  departments  and
PSUs of the same Government in Commemorative Advertisements and shall  issue
a single advertisement only;

(d)   Though advertising by governments  should  remain  regulated  all  the
time, it is particularly important to scrupulously follow  these  principles
before and during the elections.  As far  as  possible,  during  the  period
prior to elections, only those  advertisements  required  by  law  (such  as
public health and safety advisories  or  job  and  contract  advertisements)
alone be released by governments;

(e)   Advertisement campaigns should only be need based; and

(f)   In case of large volume advertisement campaigns, post-campaign  impact
assessment is necessary to be included in the planning  process  itself  and
shall identify the indicators to  measure  success  when  the  campaign  has
ended.

(5)    Government  advertising  must  comply  with  legal  requirements  and
financial regulations and procedures:

Governments shall ensure that all Advertisements comply with:-

relevant laws regarding  privacy,  intellectual  property  rights,  election
laws  and  consumer  protection  laws  apart  from  laws   in   respect   of
broadcasting and media; and



copyright laws  and  ownership  rights  associated  with  works  subject  to
copyright are fully respected.

COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT:

The Government shall appoint an Ombudsman who shall  be  an  eminent  expert
independent of  the  Government  to  receive  complaints  of  violations  of
Guidelines and to recommend action in accordance with the Guidelines.


 Heads of government departments  and  agencies  shall  be  responsible  for
ensuring compliance with these Guidelines and shall follow  a  procedure  of
certification of  compliance  before  advertisements  are  released  to  the
media.

As part of the performance audit of the Ministry/Department/Agency –

  there  shall  be  separate  audit  of  the  compliance  of   Advertisement
Guidelines by the Ministry/Department/Agency concerned; and

The annual report  of  such  ministry/department/agency  shall  publish  the
findings of such audit and the money spent on advertising.

The regulatory bodies of print and electronic media  will  be  within  their
powers to impose sanctions against such media groups  acting  against  these
Guidelines in seeking or obtaining government advertisements.

8.    GENERAL:

(1)   These Guidelines shall be in addition to and not in derogation of  the
existing Guidelines which are in  place  under  the  existing  Advertisement
Policy of Government.

(2)   These Guidelines are equally applicable to State Governments  and  its
agencies.  The State Governments  shall  undertake  amendments  to  whatever
policies they have in this regard and observe  the  Guidelines  strictly  in
letter and spirit.

The Ombudsman may recommend suitable changes to the Guidelines to deal  with
new circumstances and situations.



The Government shall take necessary steps to initiate necessary  legislation
on the subject, given its importance for democracy, human  rights  and  good
governance.”


                                   *******



Whether the guidelines recommended  should  commend  acceptance  and  if  so
whether the same should be made operative and enforceable under Article  142
of the Constitution.


7.    In the earlier order  dated  23rd  April,  2014,  this  Court,   after
holding that reasonableness and fairness consistent with Article 14  of  the
Constitution would be the ultimate test of all  State  activities  proceeded
to hold that the deployment of  public  funds  in  any  Government  activity
which is  not  connected  with  a  public  purpose  would  justify  judicial
intervention.  We would like to say something more.

Part IV of the Constitution is as much a  guiding  light  for  the  Judicial
organ of the State as the Executive and  the  Legislative  arms,  all  three
being integral parts of the “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of  the
Constitution.[3]-[4] A policy certainly  cannot  be  axed  for  its  alleged
failure to comply with any of the provisions of Part IV.   Neither  can  the
Courts charter a course, merely on the strength of  the  provisions  of  the
said Part of the Constitution, if the effect thereof would be to lay down  a
policy.  However, in a situation where the field is open  and  uncovered  by
any government policy, to guide and control  everyday  governmental  action,
surely,  in  the  exercise  of  jurisdiction  under  Article  142   of   the
Constitution, parameters can be laid down by this Court consistent with  the
objects enumerated by any of the provisions of Part IV.   Such  an  exercise
would be naturally time bound i.e. till the Legislature  or  the  Executive,
as the case may  be,  steps  in  to  fulfill  its  constitutional  role  and
authority by framing an appropriate policy.
8.    Article 38 and 39 of the Constitution enjoin upon the State a duty  to
consistently endeavour  to  achieve  social  and  economic  justice  to  the
teeming millions of the country who even today live behind  an  artificially
drawn poverty line.  What can be the surer way in the march forward than  by
ensuring avoidance of unproductive expenditure of  public  funds.   This  is
how we view the present matter and feel the necessity  of  exercise  of  our
jurisdiction under Article 142  of the Constitution to proceed further.

9.    It is neither possible nor feasible  or  even  necessary  to  try  and
encompass the myriad situations where government advertisements are  issued.
 Indeed, the situations and circumstances; events  and  occasions  on  which
government  advertisements  are  issued  are  infinite.   Nevertheless,   an
attempt can be made to arrive at a broad categorization for the  purpose  of
an illustrative understanding.

Advertisements  highlighting  completion  of   a   fixed   period   of   the
Government’s Tenure



Governments at the  Centre  as  well  as  in  the  States  often  bring  out
advertisements on completion of a  number  of  days,  months  and  years  of
governance.   In  such  advertisements,  not  only  the  ‘achievements’  are
highlighted  even  the  different  tasks  which  are  in  contemplation  are
enumerated.  By way of example one of the points highlighted may  be  supply
of electricity to each and every village.   Though  the  achievements  of  a
Government should not be a matter of publicity and  really  ought  to  be  a
matter of perception to be felt by the citizens  on  the  results  achieved,
such advertisements do have the effect of keeping the citizens  informed  of
the government functioning and therefore would be permissible.

Advertisements announcing projects:

      On an everyday basis both the Government at the Centre as well  as  in
different States issue advertisements announcing events like laying  of  the
foundation  of  different  development  projects  or  the  inauguration   of
projects completed. In many of such advertisements the results  obtained  in
the particular field covered by the advertisement and the  plan/targets  for
the future are highlighted.  Though such  advertisements  may  look  like  a
report card of the Government there is an element of informative content  in
such advertisements inasmuch as information is conveyed to the  citizens  as
regards government programmes, policies and achievements.

 Advertisements issued on the  occasion  of  birth/death  anniversaries  and
such other events:



Government advertisements are issued in the memory  of  great  personalities
who occupy a significant place in our history, such as, the  father  of  the
Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. While such persons  must  certainly  be  remembered,
what, however, would not be justified is several similar, if not  identical,
advertisements issued by different Departments on the same  occasion  as  is
happening today.  One  single  advertisement  issued  by  a  Central  Agency
should be enough to commemorate the anniversaries of  the  few  acknowledged
and undisputed public figures  whose  contribution  to  the  National  Cause
cannot raise any dispute or debate.

Advertisement issued on certain other occasions, for instance, to  mark  the
centenary year of the Patna High Court does not serve any purpose  and  must
be avoided.  Institutions need not be glorified. They  must  earn  glory  by
contribution and work.

Advertisements announcing policies and benefits for public:



All advertisements that  fall  within  this  category  would  be  in  public
interest.  Such advertisements, as for example in respect  of  the  National
Savings Schemes informing the public about benefits under  the  Scheme,  are
purely  informational  and  make  people   aware   of   their   rights   and
entitlements.   Similarly,  advertisements   issued   to   generate   public
awareness would also be justified on the touchstone of public interest.   By
way of illustration, an advertisement issued by the Ministry of  Health  and
Family Welfare informing the public of preventable  disease,  safeguards  to
be taken, vaccination programmes for the  children,  etc.  would  be  highly
informative and, therefore, justified.

10.   A connected facet of the matter which cannot be ignored is  the  power
of the Government to give/award advertisements to selected media houses  and
the  concomitant  issue  of  freedom  of  press.  Award  of  advertisements,
naturally, brings financial benefit to the particular media  house/newspaper
group. Patronization of any particular media house(s) must  be  avoided  and
award of advertisements must be on an equal  basis  to  all  newspapers  who
may,  however,  be  categorized  depending  upon  their  circulation.    The
D.A.V.P. guidelines do not deal with the  said  aspect  of  the  matter  and
hence the necessity of incorporating the same in the present  directions  to
ensure the independence, impartiality  and  the  neutrality  of  the  fourth
estate which is vital to the growth and sustenance of  democracy  will  have
to be weighed and considered by us.


11.   An analysis of the Draft Guidelines as prepared by the  Committee  set
up by this Court in the case may now be made.  The  applicability  of  these
Guidelines is to all Government advertisements other  than  classifieds  and
in all mediums of communication,  thereby  including  internet  advertising.
The objective of these Guidelines emphasize the Government’s  responsibility
to disseminate information necessary  for  the  public  to  know  about  the
policies and programmes  of  Government.  It  principally  spells  out  five
principles to regulate the contents  of advertisements, namely,

i)      advertising   campaigns   are   to   be   related   to    government
responsibilities,

ii)   materials should be presented in an  objective,  fair  and  accessible
manner and designed to meet objectives of the campaign,

iii)  not directed at promoting political interests of a Party,

iv)   campaigns must be justified and undertaken in an efficient  and  cost-
effective manner and

v)    advertisements must  comply  with  legal  requirements  and  financial
regulations and procedures.

The five broad Content Regulations contained in the draft guidelines  framed
by the Committee are similar to the  provisions   found  in  the  Australian
guidelines.  However, under each broad head specific  regulatory  parameters
have been indicated which seem to embody what would  be  good  practices  in
the Indian context.

12.    While  under  the  first  head  the  requirement  of  conformity   of
Government advertisements with  dissemination  of  information  relating  to
Government’s constitutional and  legal  obligations  and  the  corresponding
rights and entitlements of  citizens  is  being  stressed  upon,  under  the
second  head  objective  presentation  of  the  materials  contained  in  an
advertisement bearing in mind  the  target  audience  has  been  emphasized.
Under the third head, the  Guidelines  state  that  advertisement  materials
must not: (a) mention the party in government by its name,  (b)  attack  the
views or actions of other parties  in  opposition,  (c)  include  any  party
symbol or logo, (d) aim to influence public support for  a  political  party
or a  candidate for election or  (e)  refer  or  link  to  the  websites  of
political parties or politicians. It is also stated in the  Guidelines  that
photographs of leaders should be avoided and only  the  photographs  of  the
President/ Prime Minister or Governor/ Chief  Minister  shall  be  used  for
effective  government  messaging.   The  fourth   head   deals   with   cost
effectiveness  of  an  advertisement  campaign  and  measures  to  cut  down
avoidable expenses.  A somewhat restricted range of advertising activity  on
the eve of the elections is also recommended.  Appointment of  an  Ombudsman
to hear complaints of violation of  the  norms  and  to  suggest  amendments
thereto from time to time beside special performance audit by the  concerned
Ministries is also recommended.

13.   The  Union  Government  and  the  State  of  Bihar  have  filed  their
responses to the guidelines suggested by the Committee.  The State of  Bihar
suggests that some of the  recommendations  of  the  Committee,  details  of
which need not be noticed, are somewhat vague and  require  a  more  precise
definition or meaning.  The only aspect of the suggestions where  the  State
has responded emphatically is with regard to the recommendation  to  confine
the  publication of photographs of the President and the Prime  Minister  of
the  country  and  the  Governor  and  the  Chief  Minister  of  the  State.
According to the State of Bihar such a restriction should not be imposed.

14.   The Union in its response to the guidelines of the Committee has  been
more categorical in suggesting certain changes as well as deletion  of  some
of the recommendations.  It will, therefore, be  necessary  to  specifically
notice the said objections raised by the Union.

|Content of the Recommendations    | |Response of the Union           |
|(1)  Object of Guidelines                                           |
|(a)   To prevent arbitrary use of | |The meaning of the word         |
|public funds for advertising by   | |“arbitrary” according to the    |
|public authorities.               | |Union needs to be more          |
|                                  | |specifically defined.           |
|(b) To exclude the possibility of | |According to the Union the      |
|any misuse of public funds on     | |expression “political mileage”  |
|advertisement campaign in order to| |is inappropriate and should be  |
|gain political mileage by the     | |deleted.                        |
|political establishments.         | |                                |
|(2)   5 Principles of Content Regulation                            |
|(a)  Clause (vii) under the 2nd   | |According to the Union this     |
|point of the 5 principles         | |should be done only when the    |
|recommended by the Committee –    | |same is feasible and whenever   |
|Every effort should be made to    | |public interest so demands.     |
|pre-test the material in case of  | |                                |
|large scale campaign  with target | |                                |
|audiences.                        | |                                |
|(b) Clause (c)(i) under the 4th   | |According to the Union the words|
|point of the 5 principles of      | |“decide and announce beforehand”|
|Content Regulation states that    | |may be deleted as the same is   |
|“The Government shall decide and  | |not feasible since issuance of  |
|announce beforehand, a list of    | |advertisement depends on a host |
|personalities on whose birth or   | |of factors like availability of |
|death anniversaries,              | |funds, last minute changes and  |
|advertisements could be released  | |the priorities of the           |
|every year and specify which      | |government.                     |
|Ministry/Department could release | |                                |
|the same.                         | |                                |
|(c) Clause (d) of the 4th point of| |According to the Union          |
|the 5 principles of Content       | |advertisement that serve public |
|Regulation states that “as far as | |interest may be issued at any   |
|possible, during the period prior | |point of time.                  |
|to elections, only those          | |                                |
|advertisements required by law    | |                                |
|(such as public health and safety | |                                |
|advisories or job and contract    | |                                |
|advertisements) alone be released | |                                |
|by the governments.               | |                                |
|                                                                    |
|(3) Ombudsman                                                       |
|The suggestion of the Committee   | |The Union objects to the same   |
|with regard to appointment of the | |and seeks deletion of the said  |
|Ombudsman is in the following     | |recommendation as also the      |
|terms: “The Government shall      | |recommendation with regard to   |
|appoint an Ombudsman who shall be | |separate performance audit of   |
|an eminent expert independent of  | |each Ministry and publication of|
|the Government to receive         | |the result of such audit.       |
|complaints of violations of       | |According to the Union the      |
|Guidelines and to recommend action| |Government has inbuilt machinery|
|in accordance with the            | |for redressal and for audit     |
|Guidelines.”                      | |purposes.                       |



15.   A consideration of the objections filed by the Union would go to  show
that  the  Union  seriously  disagrees  with  the  recommendations  of   the
Committee in respect of the following matters:
(1)   restricted publication of photographs of the Government  functionaries
and political leaders alongwith the advertisement etc.
(2)   appointment of an Ombudsman
(3)   the recommendation with regard to performance audit by each  Ministry.

(4)   embargo on advertisements on the eve of the elections.
16.   The rest of the objections are really in  the  nature  of  suggestions
which having been considered we are of the view that  incorporation  of  the
said suggestions  made  by  the  Union  or  otherwise  would  not  make  any
substantial  difference   to   the   impact   and   effect   of   the   said
recommendations.  It is the recommendations with regard to  the  publication
of photographs; appointment of Ombudsman;  carrying  out  independent  audit
and embargo on advertisements during election time  that  will  have  to  be
specifically dealt with in some details.
17.    The  remaining  recommendations  of  the  Committee  appear   to   be
comprehensive and based on an analytical  approach  of  the  best  practices
prevailing  in  other  jurisdictions.   The  said  recommendations,  in  our
considered view, would serve public interest by  enabling  dissemination  of
information and spreading awareness amongst the citizens  not  only  of  the
government policies; achievements made and targets to be  reached  but  also
the rights and entitlements of the citizens including the availability of  a
host of welfare measures.   The said recommendations, therefore, commend  to
the Court for acceptance and are accordingly accepted.
18.   At this juncture we  may  very  briefly  deal  with  the  with     the
situation prevailing  in  other  jurisdictions  across  the  globe.   While,
undoubtedly there  can be no blind adherence to the  practices  followed  in
other jurisdictions as what may be appropriate to another  country  may  not
be ideal in the Indian context,  the correct approach  will  be  to  discern
some of the best practices prevailing in such jurisdictions  and  thereafter
to test the relevance of the same to our own country.  Though  the  recitals
contained in the Report of the Committee do mention a consideration of  such
good practices  prevailing  in  other  jurisdictions  there  is  however  no
discussion or even an indication of the precise contents  of  the  practices
that were found by the Committee to be in existence in other countries.   It
has therefore become necessary for us to deal with the  matter  though  very
briefly.  In this regard we may  usefully,  though  illustratively,  make  a
reference to certain practices prevailing in  Canada,  United  Kingdom,  New
Zealand and Australia.

19.   Insofar as Canada(Ontario) is concerned, it appears  that  the  object
of issuing a government advertisement is :  (i)  to  inform  the  public  of
current or proposed government policies, programs or services  available  to
them; (ii) to inform the public of their rights and  responsibilities  under
the law and (iii) to encourage or discourage specific  social  behaviour  in
public interest.  Such advertisements are not to include the name, voice  or
image of any functionary of the  State  and  the  primary  objective  of  an
advertisement ought not to be to foster a positive impression of the  ruling
government or a negative impression of any person, group or  party  critical
of the government.

20.   In some of the foreign jurisdictions there is a mechanism  for  review
of advertisements on fixed parameters even before  they  are  published  and
publication/issuance thereof only upon passing of  the  required  test.   In
Australia and United Kingdom,  there  is  an  added  emphasis  on  the  cost
effectiveness  of  advertising   campaigns.    In   Australia,   advertising
campaigns  of  more  than  a  particular  pecuniary  value   i.e.   1million
Australian dollars require to undergo a cost benefit  analysis  wherein  the
best options to achieve the intended objective of the  campaign  has  to  be
determined before launching the same.

21.   The good practices adopted in other jurisdictions as noticed above  do
find adequate reflection in  the  recommendations  of  the  Committee  which
further fortify our conviction to adopt the same.

22.   This will require the Court to consider the  different  aspects  of  a
government advertisement campaign  highlighted  earlier  on  which  we  have
reserved  our  comments.   The  first  is  with  regard  to  publication  of
photographs of functionaries of the State  and  political  leaders  alonwith
the advertisement issued.   There  can  be  no  manner  of  doubt  that  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  achievement(s)
sought to be highlighted or being the architect of the benefits  in  respect
of which information is sought to be percolated.
Alternatively, programmes/targets for the future  as  advertised  carry  the
impression  of  being  associated   with   the   particular   individual(s).
Photographs, therefore, have the potential  of  developing  the  personality
cult and the image of  a  one  or  a  few  individuals  which  is  a  direct
antithesis of democratic functioning.

23.   The legitimate and permissible object of an advertisement, as  earlier
discussed, can always be achieved without publication of the  photograph  of
any particular functionary either in the State of  a  political  party.   We
are, therefore, of the view that in departure to the views of the  Committee
which recommended permissibility of publication of the  photographs  of  the
President and Prime Minister of the country and Governor or  Chief  Minister
of the State alongwith the advertisements,  there  should  be  an  exception
only in the case of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice  of  the
country who may themselves decide the question.   Advertisements  issued  to
commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the  father
of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader.

24.   Insofar as the  recommendation  with  regard  to  the  appointment  of
Ombudsman is concerned, we are of the view that for ironing out the  creases
that are bound to show from time  to  time  in  the  implementation  of  the
present directions and to oversee such implementation the government  should
constitute a three member body  consisting  of  persons  with  unimpeachable
neutrality and impartiality  and  who  have  excelled  in  their  respective
fields.  We could have but we refrain from naming the specific  persons  and
leave the said exercise to be performed by the Union Government.

25.   Insofar as performance/special audit is concerned, we do not feel  the
necessity of any such special audit inasmuch as the machinery  available  is
adequate to ensure due performance as  well  as  accountability  and  proper
utilization of public money.

26.   If Government advertisements adhere  to  the  objects  and  parameters
mentioned above we do not feel the necessity of imposing a special  curb  on
government advertisements on the eve of the elections, as suggested  by  the
Committee.

27.   In an earlier part of the present order we had indicated the power  of
the purse that Government advertisements invariably  involve.   Needless  to
say the concepts of fairness and even dispensation to  all  media/publishing
houses will have to be maintained by the Government be it at the  Centre  or
the States.



28.   We close the matters on the aforesaid note by approving  and  adopting
the recommendations of the  Committee  except  what  has  been  specifically
indicated above with regard to

(1)    publication  of  photographs  of  the  Government  functionaries  and
political leaders alongwith the advertisement(s).
(2)   appointment of an Ombudsman
(3)   the recommendation with regard to performance audit by each  Ministry.

(4)   embargo on advertisements on the eve of the elections.




29.  We also make it clear that the present directions issued under  Article
142 of the Constitution  cannot  be  comprehensive  and  there  are  several
aspects of the matter which may have escaped our attention  at  this  stage.
In this regard, we would like to clarify that it is  not  the  intention  of
the  Court  to  attempt  to  lay  down  infallible  and  all   comprehensive
directions to cover the issue at hand.  The gaps, if any, we  are  confident
would be filled up by the executive arm of the  government  itself  inasmuch
as the attainment of constitutional goals and values enshrined  in  Part  IV
of the Constitution is the conjoint responsibility of the  three  organs  of
the  State  i.e.  legislative,  executive  and  the  judiciary,  as  earlier
discussed.



                                                    ………..........………………………J.
                                    [RANJAN GOGOI]




                                                    …………..........……………………J.
                                    [PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE]
NEW DELHI,
MAY 13, 2015.
-----------------------
[1]    (2014) 7 SCC 321
[2]    WP (C) No.2926 of 2012 decided on 12.12.2012
[3]    Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar & Ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. –AIR
1967 SC 1=(1966) 3 SCR 744

[4]    Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru Vs. State of Kerala & Anr. –
(1973) 4 SCC 225 (Para 1703)

-----------------------
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