A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru directed the government to clarify its stand on some of the contentions raised by the auto union here against the fresh guidelines issued by the transport department and approved by Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung May 19.
On the last date of hearing, the court had asked the government to remove the word “political” from the guidelines under which political advertisements can’t be carried on vehicles.
The new guidelines specify the system of approvals for advertisements and the areas where they can be displayed. Advertisements cannot be displayed without approval from municipal bodies and are allowed only for vehicles having GPS/GPRS systems.
The bench had also questioned the government step to allow advertisements only for auto rickshaws having GPS/GPRS systems and pre-censorship of advertisements by civic bodies.
The auto union has contended that the guidelines interfere with the right of smaller political parties to express their political views via advertisements on auto-rickshaws, etc., a much cheaper medium for expressing political speech.
The guidelines said approvals will not be granted if the advertisement contains “political, ethnic, religious or sectarian text”.
The petition pleaded the court to allow auto-rickshaw drivers to display advertisements or social messages on their vehicles carrying political content.
The plea contended that larger political parties have means and “they spent lakhs and crores (of rupees) on advertisements to express their views to the public” and it is an attempt to interfere with the constitutional rights of the smaller political parties.
In June last year, the former Sheila Dikshit government courted controversy by banning advertisements on PSVs after auto-rickshaws started sporting Aam Aadmi Party posters in the run-up to the Delhi elections.