The Supreme Court in the matter of Common Cause v Union of India 2015 had approved and adopted certain guidelines, namely, Government Advertisement (Content Regulation) Guidelines 2014 (Guidelines), suggested by a Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, to regulate the content of Government advertisements in all mediums of communication including internet advertising, other than the classified advertisements such as public notices, tenders, recruitment notices, etc.
These Guidelines were proposed with the object of emphasizing the following responsibilities of the Government, in terms of publication of advertisements:
- To spread information amongst public about various Government policies, schemes, etc introduced for public benefit,
2. To create awareness about the Government functioning and achievements,
3. To create awareness about the rights and responsibilities of public under the law,
4. To encourage or discourage a specific social behaviour in public interest,
5. To not engage in promotion of political interests of a particular party,
6. To set up an Ombudsman to deal with complaints of violations of the Guidelines,
7. To be justified, cost-effective, and compliant with legal and financial requirements and regulations, etc.
In view of the Supreme Court Judgment (supra) and the Guidelines, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had issued the Model Code of Conduct 2019 which restricts the issue of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in newspapers and other media and which also requires prior clearance of advertisements that highlight welfare schemes and achievements of the Central and State Governments, from ECI before publishing the same in newspapers that have circulation in poll-bound states.
The Indian Lawyer