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Delhi HC questions Centre in Ajay Maken’s plea againstAAP ads, Vikas Singh appears for Maken

Smrithi Suresh

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath questioned the Centre today as to what steps had it taken to ensure adherence to the Government Advertisements (Content Regulations) Guidelines 2014.

The queries came in the background of a plea filed by Congress leader Ajay Maken against the Delhi Government for their advertisements. Senior advocate Vikas Singh appeared for Maken and argued that the government had “flouted the Guidelines with impunity”.

He further submitted that the Centre had not set up any committee to ensure that the Guidelines were complied with. The Guidelines were formulated by a three member Committee as per a Supreme Court order of 2014.

While Singh pushed for notice to be issued to the Respondents, standing counsel for GNCT Raman Duggal submitted that there was no need to issue notice at this stage. The Bench seemed to concur when it said,

“Let the Counsel for the Union get instructions as to what steps have been taken to implement the Guidelines. We can’t pass any appropriate order right now.”

After a brief hearing, the Bench adjourned the matter for July 27th.

Another petition of a similar nature was filed by an NGO Nyayaa Path and came up for hearing before a Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court. Justice VP Vaish observed that the matter required a detailed hearing and due to paucity of time, re-notified the matter for July 20th.

Nyayaa Path too had challenged the advertisements put out by the AAP government stating that they glorified Arvind Kejriwal while vilifying the Opposition. The NGO’s plea also stated that the ads were a blatant violation of the Guidelines issued by the Supreme Court under exercise of its power as per Article 142.

In a landmark judgment passed in May, the Apex Court had laid down that taxpayers’ money ought not to be squandered in order to build and foster ‘personality cults’ of political parties. Barring the publishing of photos of the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India, the Court had ruled that such avoidable expenditure of public funds should not be encouraged by government.