The Supreme Court of India laid down guidelines on content regulation of government advertising and restrained the Governments from using public funds on advertisements which are primarily intended to project individual functionaries of the Government or a political party.
The Court said that photographs of only the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India can be published in newspapers and other media, including the Internet.
The Court noted that publication of photographs of a state or a political party functionary had a tendency to associate individuals with social benefit schemes or achievements.
“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”, the Court opined.
The bench emphasized that it is the government’s responsibility to disseminate information necessary for the public to know about policies and programs while making certain that the advertisement campaigns are objective and fair, cost-effective and definitely not directed at promoting political interests of a party.
To iron out issues regarding implementation of the guidelines, the Court said the Centre will constitute a three-member body consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality who have excelled in their respective fields.
The Court, however, said there was no necessity to order a special audit in view of the guidelines issued or of imposing a special curb on government advertisements on the eve of the elections.