SC mandated panel on govt ads warn states over non-compliance

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court-mandated Committed on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA), in its 19th meeting held virtually on September 4, has taken serious note of the fact that many states are yet to constitute their respective state level committees.

It also warned of putting “embargo” on issue of further advertisements by nodal agencies of the governments concerned, in any further non-compliance.

The meeting was chaired by Om Prakash Rawat, the former Chief Election Commissioner, and attended by two other members – Ramesh Narayan of then Asian Federation of Advertising Associations and past President, IAA; and Ashok Kumar Tandon, a Part-Time Member of the Prasar Bharti Board.

As per the apex court’s directions, states are mandated to set up three-member committees on content regulation of government advertisements. Karnataka, Goa, Mizoram and Nagaland have already done so, while Chhattisgarh has given its consent to the Central Committee to monitor the content of their government advertisements.

The CCRGA thinks that some state governments’ delay in setting up the state-level committees may be construed as contempt of the Supreme Court’s order. It also noted that some respondents were yet to furnish their replies to the notices issued to them in response to the complaints received by the Committee.

However, “in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Committee decided to allow further time to respondents to furnish their replies to the notices In all the pending complaints lodged with the Committee”, it said.

The CCRGA strongly felt that non-compliance of its decisions was a serious matter, and that in the event of any non-compliance of CC Orders, it may be “constrained to put embargo” on the issue of further advertisements by nodal agencies of the governments concerned.

“The Committee may, if necessary, also decide to summon the concerned official of the government agencies dealing with release of advertisements in the event of undue delay in responding to Committee’s notices,” it warned, as per a statement.

As per the directions of the Supreme Court on May 13, 2015, the Centre had set up a three-member body consisting of “persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields”, on April 6, 2016, to look into content regulation of government funded advertisements of all media platforms.

The court had in May 2015 held that “the content of government advertisement should be relevant to the government’s constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizen’s right and entitlements”.

It had also observed that “Advertisement materials should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner and designed to meet the objectives of the campaign”, “Advertisement materials should be objective and not directed at promoting political interests of ruling party”, “Advertisement Campaigns be justified and undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner” and ” Government advertising must comply with legal requirement and financial regulations and procedures”.

The government reiterated on Monday that the Committee is empowered to address complaints from the general public in violation of the Supreme Court’s guidelines and make suitable recommendations.

–IANS

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