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SC notices to Centre, 6 states & BJP on plea alleging violation of guidelines on advertisements

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre, six states and the BJP on a plea filed by a lawmaker who has alleged that they have violated the court's directions on issuance of public advertisements.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notices to the Centre, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh and Telangana and the BJP, asking them to file their responses on the plea within four weeks.
Except Telangana, the other five states are ruled by the BJP.
Sanjeev Jha, an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Burari Assembly constituency here, has filed the plea alleging that the Centre, these states and the BJP had issued advertisements, which were "ex-facie" (on the face of it) in violation of the directives of the apex court passed in a matter related to purported misuse of public funds in government advertisements.
The plea gave details of the advertisements issued by them and alleged that there was "circumvention" of the orders passed by the court, as well as the guidelines in this regard.
The petitioner sought a direction from the top court that a committee constituted on this issue should be asked to take cognizance of these alleged violations and initiate appropriate proceedings against the Centre, these states and the BJP.
The plea has also sought a direction for quantifying the amount spent by them in issuing these advertisements and direct the BJP to "reimburse" it to the respective governments.
On May 13, 2015 the apex court had passed a slew of directions including the order asking Centre to constitute a three-member committee "consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality" to regulate the issue of public advertisements.
On March 18, 2016, the apex court had modified its order and said the pictures of Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and State Ministers can appear in government advertisements.
The court orders had came on pleas by Centre and states including the then poll-bound West Bengal and Tamil Nadu which had sought a review of the Supreme Court judgment barring publication of leaders' photos in advertisements except those of the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India, saying it infringed on the fundamental rights and the federal structure.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause which had filed the original PIL on review petitions filed by the States, had told the bench that certain state governments were violating the apex court's orders.

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First Published: Aug 31 2018 | 6:50 PM IST

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