New Delhi, Sep 17: In a major blow to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, the panel appointed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Saturday ordered to “reimburse to the state exchequer” the entire amount that the Aam Aadmi Party had spent on its advertisements.
The panel charged the Delhi government of violating Supreme Court guidelines.
Its order said: “The Committee directs the Government of NCT of Delhi to get the entire expenditure so incurred on … category .. reimbursed to the state exchequer from the Aam Aadmi Party.”
It was also critical of the advertisements carried out by AAP outside Delhi.
The committee on content regulation of government advertisements asserted that if any Chief Ministers want to promote their policies vital to the nation, then such political parties should bear the expenditure of such publicity and not the concerned government, an official here said.
The three-member committee was chaired by former Chief Election Commissioner B. B. Tandon and included Ogilvy and Mather India’s Piyush Pandey and journalist Rajat Sharma of India TV.
The panel passed the order taking cognizance of complaints registered by Congress leader Ajay Maken.
It found there had been violations in categories like outstation advertisements, false and misleading ones, and on self-glorification. AAP had also targeted political opponents, media, and even mentioned parties in power by name.
It further added that the AAP government should not have issued advertisements on incidents taking place in other states.
According to the Supreme Court order of May 13, 2015, advertisements by state governments should not be “outside its boundaries”, but it should be for attracting investment, business and talent to the state.
The Top court had also clarified that such advertisements should be designed accordingly for the purpose, and released for the specific target group, the panel said.
The committee, however, rejected another complaint of the former Congress minister on advertisements celebrating anniversaries of parties in power, as the guidelines permit them.
It also concluded that the AAP government should assess all expenditure made on advertorials — advertisement in the form of editorial content — mentioning AAP, along with those in which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tried to target the opposition.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry had in April formed the content regulation committee.
The panel members were chosen by a selection committee headed by Chairman of Press Council of India Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad (retd).
The apex court had in its May 2015 order laid down criteria as per which government advertisements could only carry pictures of certain dignitaries like the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
Later the court had issued a modified order, allowing Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, Governors and State Ministers to appear in government advertisements.
The two-year panel could also recommend corrective actions to the government.