Supreme Court notice to Centre, BJP, six states on violation of public advertisement guidelines

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The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre, six state governments and the BJP on a plea which has alleged that they have violated the apex courts directions on issuance of public advertisements. Besides the Centre and the BJP, the apex court issued notices to the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chattishgarh and Telangana on a plea filed by an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Delhi. Except Telangana, the other five states are ruled by the BJP. A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked them to file their responses within four weeks on the plea by Sanjeev Jha, an MLA from Burari constituency here. The petitioner has alleged that the Centre, BJP and these states have issued public advertisements in violation of the apex courts directions given earlier. He has sought a direction from the top court that a committee constituted on this issue by the Centre should be asked to take cognizance of these alleged violations and initiate appropriate proceedings against them. 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. However, on March 18, 2016, the apex court modified its order and said the pictures of Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and State Ministers can appear in government advertisements. That verdict 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 fundamental rights and 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 courts orders.