Regulators

Apex Court sets up panel to study issuance of ads glorifying politicians

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has formed a three-member panel to frame guidelines to regulate government advertisements glorifying politicians in media.

The apex court bench headed by chief justice P Sathasivam said that the existing guidelines of the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) do not cover such advertisements.

The panel will be headed by Prof NR Madhav Menon, founder director of Bangalore's National Law University. TK Vishwanathan, former Lok Sabha secretary general and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar are the other two members of the panel. The report has to be submitted to the court in three months.

The court has asked Information and Broadcasting Ministry secretary Bimal Julka to coordinate the meetings of the committee.

The court passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the NGOs Common Cause and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) pleading it to frame guidelines. The petition sought issuance of guidelines for curbing ruling parties from taking political mileage by projecting their leaders in official advertisements.

Counsel for Common Cause, Meera Bhatia, had earlier said that the glorification of politicians linked to the ruling establishment, in order to attain political mileage at the cost of public exchequer, was violative of Article 14 of the constitution.

But counsel representing CPIL, Prashant Bhushan, had told the court that there was nothing wrong in issuing advertisements and informing the public about the programmes of the government. However, he had said such advertisement campaigns become arbitrary and malafide when aimed at gaining political mileage.

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