HC seeks details of money spent on ads by Delhi government

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government to file a status report with details of money spent by it on advertisements following a Supreme Court direction on the issue.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath observed that “prima facie what you (Delhi government) are doing is in violation of Supreme Court judgment” and with “public money”.

“Having regard to the fact that the Supreme Court issued strict directions… and keeping in view the averments in petitions, the Delhi government is directed to file its response furnishing the details of amount spent on advertisements in print and electronic media after the Supreme Court judgment.

“The Delhi government to also furnish the source of the expenditure on advertisements,” the court said posting the matter for August 3.

The court was hearing a bunch of PILs including a plea by Congress leader Ajay Maken, seeking restraint on advertisements allegedly glorifying Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party.

Maken, who heads the Delhi unit of the Congress party, also sought direction to restrain the Delhi government from publishing Kejriwal’s name in any of its current or future advertisements.

He alleged that the AAP was violating the guidelines of the Supreme Court, which prohibited the use of photographs of political leaders, including ministers, in advertisements issued by the government and its agencies, saying it leads to promotion of a personality cult.

During the hearing, the bench asked Delhi government counsel Raman Duggal whether the expenses for the advertisements were from the AAP or the city government’s fund.

The counsel replied that the advertisements of the Delhi government were from the party fund, to which the bench asked why it had increased the budget allocation to Rs.526 crore.

The counsel said the government has withdrawn some of the advertisements and hoardings from the capital’s streets.

Another PIL filed by PhD scholar Varun Kumar Mahla sought immediate withdrawal of advertisements by the Delhi government that use phrases like “Kejriwal Sarkar”.

The plea said the act of the government was contrary to a ruling of the Supreme Court which called the development of personality cult of political functionaries at the cost of public money as an “antithesis to democracy”.

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