October 7, 2014 1:43:09 am
Advocating strict regulation of expenditure and content of advertisements in the media by governments and politicians, a Supreme Court panel has recommended a slew of measures to “keep politics away” from such ads to check “misuse and abuse” of public money.
The court-appointed high-powered committee stated that only pictures and names of the President, Prime Minister, Governors and Chief Ministers should be published in government advertisements without mentioning or using names and pictures of political parties and their office bearers.
Headed by eminent academician Professor N R Madhava Menon, the three-member panel suggested ways to prevent splurge of the public fund. The panel said expenditure on public advertisements should be declared by each ministry and public sector undertaking and that it should be audited by the CAG.
The report suggested there be an implementation committee, headed by either an ombudsman or Cabinet Secretary or Secretary Information and Broadcasting Ministry, to maintain a distinction between legitimate message of government from that of political message till a law is enacted.
It said government advertisements should not be used to the advantage of the ruling party and for assailing the opposition. It also endorsed a suggestion by the Election Commission that there must be severe restrictions on such advertisements six months prior to elections.
The committee, comprising T K Viswanathan, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, recommended that there should only be a single advertisement, preferably by the I&B Ministry, in respect of commemorative advertisements that are published on birth and death anniversaries of important personalities.
The committee prepared its guidelines after consulting provisions of various countries and meeting all state governments and political parties.
Based on these recommendations, the SC will issue “substantive guidelines” to be followed by the central and state governments and their agencies such as the Directorate of Advertising and
Visual Publicity (DAVP) and information departments in states.
Approving curbs on “politically motivated” advertisements by governments and leaders at the cost of public funds, the SC had in April set up a panel to frame comprehensive guidelines to help end the abuse of public ads for political mileage. It will take up the case next on October 9.
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