Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Home News Reports Ads of Delhi Government all over India, are they legal?

Ads of Delhi Government all over India, are they legal?

If you have read your newspaper today, no matter where in India you are, you might have seen extensive coverage of Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP Government in Delhi, that too mostly positive articles, and all condensed on a double page. No, all Indian media houses did not decide to simultaneously publish such an Ode to the Delhi Government, but in fact these are advertisements published by the AAP Government.

What distinguishes these advertisements from the run of the mill ads which political parties often put up, are the fact that these AAP Government ads are designed so as to look like proper news articles. The modus operandi seems to be news article styled pieces which glorify the AAP Government are published on newspapers. Such “ads” were seen in far flung cities and villages all across the country including Karnataka, Mumbai, Ajmer, Gujarat, Odisha, Agra, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Goa , Indore , Kerala and even vernacular papers. There seems to be no pattern to these places, some states are due elections soon, some have just gone through a round of elections and some have a considerable amount of time till elections are due.

Some of the newspapers mention that this feature is an “advertorial”, some get creative, using names such as: “marketing solutions”, “Vigyapan Parishisht” etc, while many remain silent and do not mention anywhere that these are not regular news pieces but advertisements. This seems to be the result of the Rs 526 crore advertising budget of the Delhi Government. But are such advertisements legal? After all, Kejriwal has previously been censured by the courts and the CAG

Let us examine what the Supreme Court has to say on Government advertisements. A Historic Judgment was delivered after a writ petition was filed by “Common Cause and Center For Public Interest Litigation” which sought a restraining order against misuse of public funds for advertisements which are intended “to project individual functionaries of the Government or a political party” and sought drafting of guidelines to be formulated by the SC. The SC judgement clearly mentions that the “guidelines” are only for the time till a formal policy is rolled out by the government. In view of this the Government of India has constituted a committee to formulate advertisement guidelines. Until the committee comes up with the same, all Governments have to adhere to the SC laid guidelines.

So what exactly are the guidelines? Let us examine para wise.

Objects of the Guidelines

Objects
Objects

The purpose of the guidelines is clearly to prevent “arbitrary” use of public funds without any “attendant public interest”. The guidelines seek to ensure that “government messaging is well co-ordinated and effectively managed”. It further seeks to ensure all government activities satisfy the test of “reasonableness”.

Critically examining the object of the guidelines and advertisements issued by Kejriwal led Delhi Government, it is clear that these guidelines aren’t being followed in both letter and spirit. What explains issuance of “advertorials” about the work of the a small state Government like Delhi in far off Gujarat or Chennai. How does it affect them?

Government Advertisement to “Inform People”

To Inform people
To Inform people

Delhi Government’s constitutional obligation is towards the people of Delhi. It has absolutely no right to splurge tax-payers moneys on advertisements all over India. They are not “obligated” to inform people sitting in Bhopal, Varanasi or Chennai. They are answerable to people in Delhi.

2

The only kind of ads which would be justified to be published all over India would be if the ads were to invite investors to a business summit, instead the Ads in question, talk about mundane things like renaming a fly-over. Is it any “substantial change in policy, products or services” which require spending of crores of rupees? It can be argued that the content of the advertisement was to appease Punjabi voters for the upcoming elections. Same case with increase in salaries of Punjabi teachers or making Punjabi compulsory language.

Further few days back the Delhi Government issued an advertisement with many spelling errors thereby violating clause 2(vii) of the guidelines. It shows there are no systems to cross-check or pre-test the material. Its sheer wastage of funds.

Political interests

Recently Delhi government issued advertisement in which they said “The Center has withheld  approvals to 14 such bills of public interest passed by the Delhi Assembly” and mentioned “they kept troubling us, we kept working” including a “humble appeal to the central government”. This is what the guidelines say:

Political Interests
Political Interests

This ad by the AAP Government is clearly not maintaining political neutrality,  and attempts to further political ambitions and “directly attacks the views or actions of others in opposition”

Can this be contempt of court?

Patronising Media houses

Patronizing media houses
Patronising media houses

SC guidelines clearly mention that advertisements shall not be used to receive “favourable” reporting but in earlier post by Arpit Parashar it was alleged that Delhi Government might be misusing “power of the purse”

Basically the SC order expects governments to ensure that

  • advertising campaigns are to be related to government responsibilities,
  • materials should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner and designed to meet objectives of the campaign,
  • not directed at promoting political interests of a Party,
  • campaigns must be justified and undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner and
  • advertisements must comply with legal requirements and financial regulations and
  • procedures

Can the Kejriwal Government clearly claim adherence to these guidelines?

We will probably never hear anything about this from our esteemed media, because by questioning AAP Government’s ad spend, they will kill their own revenue source: Either AAP Government will withdraw ads to punish the media, or the ads may stop thanks to law taking its course.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Ashutosh Muglikar
Articles on Corporate Laws, Policy, Economics and Politics. Maverick. Lover of Ideas. Slayer of Hoaxes.

Related Articles

Trending now

Coronavirus: Health Ministry issues advisory to Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on Delta Plus variant

Delta Plus variant has been detected in samples collected from Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, which is a cause of concern.

Rana Ayyub tells Harvard University students how to speak ‘truth to power’, after spreading fake news over Ghaziabad fake hate crime

Rana Ayyub interacted with the students of Harvard University over challenges facing journalism and 'speaking truth to power'.

Mamata Banerjee, after promising monthly stipends for women, faces ‘financial shortage’ in keeping her poll promise

West Bengal government might have to cut down on fund allocation to other Departments to keep Lakshmi Bhandar scheme afloat.

Uttar Pradesh: Forced mass religious conversion accused Mohammad Umar Gautam was felicitated by AMU alumni for ‘spreading Islam’

Mohammad Umar Gautam and his associated at the Islamic Dawah Centre(IDC) preyed on vulnerable and poor people, those with listening and speaking disabilities, and converted them to Islam

The MVA report card: Maharashtra government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic

10-min read: As the Maha Vikas Aghadi struggles to keep itself afloat, here's a snapshot on the Maharashtra government's handling of the pandemic.

Congress Toolkit team now comes up with a ‘white paper’ on COVID management, here is how it is flawed

Congress has released a white paper cautioning on the third wave of COVID-19, which appears as an extension of the toolkit that was exposed last month

Recently Popular

Ravish Kumar appears massively frustrated as India administers 85 lakh COVID vaccines in single day, this is why he does not make sense

Ravish Kumar goes on a ranting spree to hate on PM Modi by camouflaging propaganda as 'criticism' over COVID-19 vaccination

How Venkatesh Prasad is winning hearts with his ‘Sanghi’ posts, one tweet at a time

Venkatesh Prasad demonstrated the Surya Namaskar for his followers, performed in deference to the Sun God.

Oxfam says reporting rape cases harms black and marginalised people, blames ‘privileged white women’ for root causes of sexual violence

Oxfam says that fighting against sexual assault legitimises criminal punishment, which harms black and other marginalised people

After MC Kode, Vastavik Muhfaad abuses Lord Krishna while dissing another rapper, songs laced with expletives and drug promotion

In another ‘high on abuses’ song, Muhfaad refers to Hindu gods Ram and Sita in a similar depreciative manner.

After being slammed by Bombay HC for lack of evidence, Mumbai police names Arnab Goswami as an accused in second TRP chargesheet

Republic TV had submitted before Bombay HC that Mumbai Police have deliberately not named Arnab Goswami in charge sheet to keep the investigation open
- Advertisement -

 

Connect with us

255,564FansLike
555,366FollowersFollow
24,400SubscribersSubscribe