Government on Tuesday opposed in Supreme Court the framing of guidelines on regulating its advertisements, saying this did not fall under the ambit of judicial purview as an elected dispensation was answerable to Parliament.
The government also asked as to how would the court decide which of the advertisement has been issued to gain political mileage.
A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra, which reserved its verdict on various pleas on the issue, said it would consider submissions of all parties concerned including the central government.
Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, said, “these are matters which should be left to the government and are outside the purview of the courts. The government communicates to the public at large through these advertisements on policy and other matters.”
He was opposing to the submission of Prashant Bhushan, who was representing an NGO, that there should be an ombudsman to regulate misuse of public money by the government of the day by giving advertisements to gain political mileage.
“The government expenditure is subject to whole lot of parliamentary procedures and each penny is accounted for and is subject to the audit of the CAG. This is not a case akin to the Visakha case where the courts can step in,” the AG said.
Giving several instances, he said it would amount to “pre-censorship” as it is difficult to judge which of the advertisement is being given to gain political mileage.
“Today, we have the swine flu campaign going on across the country. Do we suggest that these advertisements should not contain the pictures of the health minister or health secretary etc. It cannot be said this (advertisement) is given with malafide intention,” he said, adding that every government department was entitled by Parliament to spend a particular amount under a particular head.
“On what basis, you will decide that it is malafide and is being given to gain political mileage. Ultimately, the government is answerable to Parliament,” he said.
At the outset, Bhushan endorsed as “salutary” the recommendations of the court-appointed committee and said that they should be issued by the court to ensure that their non-adherence invite consequences.