The Patna High Court on Tuesday ordered a stay on Bihar government’s mega promotion and campaign drive “Badh Chala Bihar”. The court pulled up the state government for violating the Supreme Court provisions against the use of photographs of the state chief minister in campaign material, including the just-released annual report card of the Nitish Kumar government.
A division bench of the high court ordered the stay acting on a petition filed by Nagrik Jagran Manch convenor Shiv Prakash Rai.
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Rai had pleaded before the court that the ongoing Public Relations (PR) department campaign was a “waste of public money” and was not in consonance with recent Supreme Court guidelines about not using photographs of the chief minister in government publicity materials through the “Badh Chala Bihar” campaign.
The petitioner also highlighted how the state PR department had engaged around 400 pick-up vans under its Janbhagidari Manch programme to collect basic data of governance delivery and get public feedback. The petitioner’s lawyer, Dinu Kumar, told The Indian Express: “The court stayed the state government campaign restricting the use of any publicity material using pictures of the Chief Minister and giving any data that amounts to promotion of the state government. The HC has given four weeks to the government to give complete details on expenses incurred on the campaign.” The lawyer added the court took exception to violation of the SC order despite its clear guidelines.
“Since the Supreme Court had rejected a special plea of the Bihar government to use photographs of the CM and the Governor, it amounts to a violation,” Dinu Kumar said.
Government advocate Lalit Kishore had pleaded before the court that the campaign was part of the state government’s sincere efforts to get feedback and do a reality check on governance. The court, however, did not find merit in his arguments.