A Supreme Court-mandated committee on content regulation in government advertising has issued a notice to the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi over an advertisement issued by it last week, taking cognisance of concerns raised on social media that its purpose was only "political messaging".
"Historic! Delhi government schools class 12 results -- 98 per cent," said the Delhi government advertisement, which was published in several newspapers on July 16.
It came in for criticism on social media with many claiming that it was just political messaging and there was no point in spending huge sums of money to publish the ad in other states.
The Supreme Court-mandated Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) issued the notice to the Delhi government and demanded a reply to various issues, like cost to the exchequer, within 60 days upon receiving the notice.
"The committee had taken suo-motu cognizance of the points raised in the social media on the Delhi government advertisement -- questions had been raised on the necessity of the Delhi government to issue advertisements in Mumbai newspapers and had pointed that the purpose of the ad was only for political messaging," a statement issued by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.
"The one-page advertisement was published by the Department of Education and Directorate of Information and Publicity, government of NCT of Delhi," the statement said.
The Delhi government has been given 60 days time from the receipt of the notice to submit its comments to the committee on issues of cost to the exchequer on the advertisement and the purpose of the advertisement published and specifically publishing it in other editions than Delhi, it said.
The committee has sought a reply to how does this advertisement not violate the Supreme Court's guidelines of avoiding glorification of political personalities. It has also sought the media plan of the advertisement with names of publications and their editions.
Under the Supreme Court guidelines dated May 13, 2015,"content of government advertisements should be relevant to the governments’ constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizens’ rights and entitlements”.
On the directions of the top court, the Centre on April 6, 2016, had set up a three-member body consisting of “persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields” to look into content regulation of government funded advertisements on all media platforms.
The committee is empowered to address complaints from the general public on violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and make suitable recommendations, the statement said.
The Committee can also take suo-motu cognizance of any violation or deviation of the Supreme Court guidelines and recommend corrective actions, it said.
Presently the CCRGA is chaired by Om Prakash Rawat, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, and its members are Ramesh Narayan of Asian Federation of Advertising Associations and Past President, IAA and Ashok Kumar Tandon, Member, Prasar Bharati Board.