SC refuses any interim relief to Delhi govt on ads issue

SansadTV Bureau
FILE: New Delhi: File photo of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing a press conference in New Delhi with Dy CM Manish Sisodia. Photo - PTI

FILE: New Delhi: File photo of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing a press conference in New Delhi with Dy CM Manish Sisodia.
Photo – PTI

The Supreme Court today refused to give any interim relief to the Delhi government on its plea seeking clarification over the jurisdiction of a panel constituted by the Centre to entertain complaints with respect to advertisements issued by it.

The apex court also refused to stay the August 10, 2016 order of Delhi High Court directing the panel to decide the representation of Congress leader Ajay Maken that alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal government has issued advertisements in violation of the guidelines.

“No interim orders. We will examine the matter. Issue notice returnable in six weeks,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha said.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Delhi government, said that they need a clarification over the jurisdiction of Centre’s panel which was constituted in compliance of the apex court’s earlier order.

“Central government thinks that it can decide complaints against advertisements issued by the Delhi government. We need clarification,” he said.

Dave said that they have also challenged the August 10, 2016 order of they Delhi High Court by special leave petition and sought a stay on it.

The bench, however, refused to pass any interim order.

The plea filed by the Delhi government also sought the apex court’s direction to quash the orders passed by the Centre-appointed committee in September and November of 2016, contending that they were not applicable on it.

The committee, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon, in its report of September 16 last year, had held that the Delhi government had spent the exchequer’s money on advertisements projecting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party in violation of the apex court guidelines of May 13, 2015.

“Hold that the notification/order dated April 6, 2016, to the extent that it extends the jurisdiction of the Committee appointed at the Centre level to the publication of advertisements issued by GNCTD is contrary to the order/directions passed by the apex court in orders and judgements dated May 5, 2015 and April 28, 2016 and accordingly quash the same,” the plea said.

Rejecting the stand of the central government that judiciary should not encroach into government policies and executive decisions, the apex court had on May 13, 2015 said that they can step in if there is no policy or law in place.

It had directed the central government to constitute a three-member committee “consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality” to regulate the issue of public advertisements and rejected the plea that it should be done by the court itself.

The apex court had initially barred publication of photos of leaders in government advertisements except those of the president, the prime minister and the chief justice of India.

Later on March 18, 2016, it modified its earlier order and allowed photographs of chief ministers, governors and ministers to be carried in public advertisements.