SC allows photos of governors, CMs, ministers in government ads

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday also allowed use of photos of the governors, chief ministers and central and state cabinet ministers or minister incharge of the department concerned in government advertisements.

A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose allowed photos of governor, chief minister and cabinet ministers of departments concerned, both at the centre and in the states, while modifying their earlier order by which only the photos of president, prime minister and chief justice of India were permitted in government ads.

The central and the state governments of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had moved the court, seeking the review of its earlier order, contending that it was contrary to the federal structure.

Pronouncing the order, Justice Gogoi said: "The exception carved out a (in the) judgment dated 13th May, 2015 permitting the publication of the photographs of the president, prime minister and chief justice of the country, subject to the said authorities themselves deciding the question, is now extended to the governors and the chief ministers of the states."

The order further said that in lieu of the prime minister, the photograph of the cabinet minister/minister in-charge of the ministry concerned may be published, if so desired.

Similarly, the order said: "In the states, similarly, the photograph of the departmental (cabinet) minister/minister in charge in lieu of the photograph of the chief minister may be published, if so desired."

"All other observations/directions in the judgment dated 13th May, 2015 shall continue to remain in force subject to the above modification."

The apex court by its May 13 verdict had directed the government or its agencies to carry only the photos of the president, prime Minister and the chief justice of India only in their advertisements.

Restricting the photos to three constitutional authorities, it had said that the government advertisements in connection with an event along with the photograph of a state or party functionary has a tendency of associating that individual with the achievements sought to highlighted and such media blitz has a "potential of developing the personality cult" around such state functionary

Carving out the exception, the court on May 13 had said that the advertisements issued to "commemorate the anniversaries of acknowledged personalities like the father of the nation would of course carry the photograph of the departed leader".

While not accepting the recommendation by the N.R. Madhava Menon committee for appointing an ombudsman, the court in its May 13 verdict had said: "We are of the view that for ironing out the creases that are bound to show from time to time in the implementation of the present directions and to oversee such implementation the government should constitute a three member body consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields."

The central government, while arguing its plea for the recall of the May 13 order, had said that in a federal polity, the position of chief ministers or union ministers was in no way less than that of the prime minister.

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