Tamil Nadu calls for review of Supreme Court judgment on government ads

NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu government has sought a review of the Supreme Court judgment restraining both Central and State government from publishing photographs of political leaders and ministers, except the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.

The apex Court had pronounced the judgment on 13 May on the basis of the recommendations of an expert panel set up by it last year following public interest litigations by two NGOs.

As was reported earlier by, DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi had lashed out at the Supreme Court’s ban on the photos of politicians in government ads.

In its review petition, the State government said the judgment contradicts the federal structure based on grounds of “parity” between the Centre and States.

It contends that Chief Ministers and State Governors are also constitutional authorities and by allowing publication of photographs of only the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India, the apex Court has disregarded the equal share of powers enjoyed between the Centre and the States.

The petition requests the apex court to set aside the judgment on the ground that it gives an impression that the judiciary is intruding into policy decisions of the executive.

It said the party in power has the right to publish the Chief Minister’s photograph in a government advertisement regarding the achievements of the State government.

The petition, filed by advocate Yogesh Kanna for the State, further contends that the Supreme Court overlooks the recommendations made by its own committee, which said that the photos of Chief Ministers and State Governors should be allowed along with the other constitutional authorities.

The judgment had said that such photos tend to portray a government project as the achievement of a particular individual and thus pave the way for making of a “personality cult.” Such personal glorification and image-making on public expenses is a “direct antithesis of democratic functioning,” it held.

However the court had said that the Prime Minister, the President and the Chief Justice of India have to decide themselves on whether their photographs should appear in a government advertisement or not. By this, the judgment, in a way, had made them personally accountable for the publication of their photographs.

Drawing a distinction between “government messaging” and “politically motivated ads” in this context, the Supreme Court had said that such a curb is unnecessary on election eve provided the advertisement serves public interest and enables dissemination of information. 

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