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SC extends term of panel on government ads


New Delhi, July 30 :

The Supreme Court Wednesday extended till Sep 30 the term of a three-member committee constituted to frame guidelines to regulate issuance of advertisements with an obvious political message put out by the government and its departments.

The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S.A. Bobde extended the term of the committee after Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who is also a committee member, sought time till Sep 30 to complete the task.
Supreme Court
Appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), counsel Prashant Bhushan drew the attention of the court to the rampant manner in which advertisements were being put by the government and its departments in the newspapers every day.

The court, while setting up the committee headed by legal academician and founder director of Bangalore’s National Law University N.R. Madhavan Menon, had earlier said “the existing DAVP policy/guidelines do not govern the issues raised” by Common Cause and the CPIL as these guidelines “do not lay down any criteria” for the advertisements to qualify for “public purpose” as opposed to partisan ends and political mileage…”

The court said there was “a need for substantive guidelines to be issued by this court until the legislature enacts a law in this regard”.

The court by its April 23 order had said “there is no policy or guideline to regulate the content of government advertisements and to exclude the possibility of any mala fide use or misuse of public funds on advertisements in order to gain political mileage by the political establishment”.

Besides Menon and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, the third member of the committee is former Lok Sabha secretary general T.K. Vishwanathan.

The court had said the secretary for information and broadcasting would be member secretary who would be coordinating and rendering assistance to the committee.