In a historic judgment holding that taxpayers’ money cannot be spent to build “personality cults” of political leaders, the Supreme Court has restrained ruling parties from publishing photographs of political leaders or prominent persons in government-funded advertisements.
The apex court said such photos divert attention from the policy of the government, unnecessarily associate an individual with a government project and pave the way for cultivating a “personality cult”.
As an exception to this general rule, the court held that the photos of only three constitutional authorities—Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India—can be used in such advertisements. But for that too, the personal approval of these three authorities need to be got before publication.
The judgment by a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana came on the basis of a series of recommendations given by its own committee led by noted legal academician N.S. Madhava Menon on introducing checks on government-funded advertisements.
The committee was formed in April 2014 on a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause had argued that ruling party leaders and ministers were taking undue advantage at public expenses.