A Supreme Court (SC) Bench, comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and PC Ghose, on 18 March 2016 modified guidelines on regulating government advertisements.
As per the modified guidelines, pictures of Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and State Ministers can now appear in government advertisements.
These are in addition to the pictures of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India that were allowed by the original guidelines issued by the SC in May 2015.
• The Supreme Court on 13 May 2015 issued guidelines on regulating government advertisements.
• The guidelines were framed with a view to discourage such advertisements from creating personality cults
• As per the guidelines, only photographs of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India can feature in the newspaper advertisements released by state and central government departments.
• Contesting the guidelines, the Union Government, states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh sought their review.
• The contention was that the guidelines violated Article 19 and federal structure provided in the Constitution.
• The petitioners argued that Article 19 (1) (a) - freedom of speech and expression - empowers the State as well as the citizens to give and receive information and it cannot be curtailed and regulated by the courts.
• The guidelines were termed as anti-federal because, as per the Constitution and the earlier SC orders, every State is an autonomous (not sovereign) political entity, hence, the pictures of Governors and Chief Ministers should be allowed.
• Against this backdrop, the SC took up the review petition and issued modified guidelines.
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When: 18 March 2016