The Centre on Tuesday joined hands with the state governments seeking review of the Supreme Court's landmark judgement barring the publication of photos of leaders in official advertisements except those of President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and P C Ghose agreed to hear on January 12 the review filed by Centre along with the petitions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and Assam seeking nod to publish photographs of Chief Ministers on their advertisements.
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"Attorney General makes a submission that a plea on behalf of Union of India seeking review of our May 13 judgement has been filed and same should be heard...We have considered the matter and order hearing of the plea along with others on January 12, 2016" the bench said, adding "no fruitful purpose would be served" in hearing the cases separately.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the court that the Centre has filed a review petition seeking a "wholesale review" of the May 13 judgment and sought adjournment of the case.
Attorney General said citizens have a right to know about government schemes and the whole verdict should be re-examined.
He said there should be no restriction on advertisements and hoardings as they are used as a medium to send message to the public about government policies.
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Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause, which had filed the original PIL, on review petitions filed by the states, told the bench that certain state governments were violating the apex court's orders.
Opposing the request for adjournment, he said the Centre has filed the review after six months of the judgement and any further delay would "partially defeat" the entire objective of the court's orders.
Bhushan also said that a three-member ombudsman as directed by the apex court to oversee implementation of the guidelines regulating government-funded advertisements had not been constituted by the government yet.
Recently, the apex court had sought response from Centre as to whether it has set up a three-member ombudsman to regulate advertisements issued by various governments and authorities in pursuance of its decision on the issue.
The court's notice had come on an application filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and AIADMK-run Tamil Nadu dispensation for "disobeying" apex court guidelines on public advertisements.
On May 13, the apex court had passed a slew of directions including the order asking the Centre to constitute a three-member committee "consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality" to regulate the issue of public advertisements.