The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement, has restrained the government from publishing the photographs of political leaders, Ministers or prominent persons in government advertisements.
The court has said that such photos tended to portray a government project as the achievement of a particular individual and thus paved the way for a personality cult. Such personal glorification and image-making at public expense was a direct antithesis of democratic functioning. Hence the court has held that taxpayers’ money cannot be spent to build the personality cults of political leaders.
- However, the court has drawn an exception to this restraint in the case of the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. The Judgement adds that the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India have to decide for themselves whether or not their photographs should appear in a government advertisement. By this, the judgment, in a way, makes them personally accountable for the publication of their photographs.
- The judgment also gives space for publishing the photos of acknowledged personalities like Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate their anniversaries.
- The verdict was based on petitions filed by NGOs, which said taxpayer’s money was being spent liberally on gaining political mileage.
- The verdict applies to the frequent ads that are placed by the centre and state governments to publicize schemes.
- The apex court has also directed the central government to constitute a three-member committee consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality to regulate the issue of public advertisements and rejected the plea that it should be done by the court itself.
- The central government had recently said that judiciary should not encroach into government policies and executive decisions and can step in only if there is no policy or law in place.
Sources: The Hindu