‘Spent money on ads for awareness about policies’
The AAP government on Thursday informed the Delhi high court that it had spent money on advertisements that spread awareness among the public about their policies and priorities, which is the right of citizens.
The submission was made before Justice V P Vaish, who was hearing a petition seeking to restrain the AAP government from publishing “confrontationist” advertisements criticising the Centre and police while allegedly glorifying Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The affidavit filed by the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) claims that advertisements “inform the public about the policies and priorities of the current government, namely, reducing corruption, reducing electricity bills, free water, reducing power cuts, fixing potholes, increasing the education and health budget.”
“The purpose of advertisement by <g data-gr-id="27">government</g> is to reach out to as many people as possible about government’s policies and a citizens’ rights.
“Taking economic decisions is purely within the preview of the legislature and once a budget has been passed, it is not for the petitioner to dictate terms as to what is cost- effective and not. As a matter of fact, economic decisions are not interfered with by courts either,” DIP said in its affidavit filed through Delhi government’s standing counsel Raman Duggal.
The Delhi government’s response came on a plea filed NGO <g data-gr-id="29">Nyayaa</g> Path, which has sought stay on the advertisements, immediate withdrawal of a recent television advertisement and for “restraining itself (city government) from such type of image building exercise of Arvind Kejriwal”.
Besides the AAP government, the Centre through its standing counsel Anil Soni and advocate Nagender Benipal told the court that the Supreme Court ruling that taxpayers’ money cannot be spent to build the image of political leaders was “applicable” to all states and Union territories, including Delhi.
This submission was made by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) which also said that enactment of <g data-gr-id="31">law</g> on the Content Regulation for the Government-Funded Advertisements will take time. The Centre submitted that it was in the process of appointing a three-member-body to oversee the implementation of the Supreme Court guidelines.