Opposition parties often accuse the ruling party that under the guise of government advertisements, leaders spend hundreds of crores of rupees on their personal and political publicity, but every party has been doing the same after coming to power.
Recently, on the orders of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, the Publicity Department of the Delhi government has sent a notice to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to deposit Rs 163.62 crore in the government treasury. According to officials, this includes recovery of advertisement expenses of about Rs 99 crore and interest thereon of more than Rs 64 crore. You have to deposit this amount within 10 days. The Delhi government has been accused of promoting the Aam Aadmi Party and its leaders under the guise of government advertisements, which was motivated by political interests.
It is to be noted that the notice to AAP has been sent by the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) of the Delhi government. DIP told AAP that if this amount is not deposited within the stipulated time, it will be recovered. The basis of this notice has been made on the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in 2015.
What are the rules of government advertisement?
The rule regarding government advertisements is that government advertisements or announcements should not promote the interests of the ruling party, nor should any of those advertisements glorify political figures. The name, symbol, city or flag of the party shall not appear in the official advertisement at all.
At the same time, in such advertisements, the ruling party will not taunt or attack (abuse) the views or works of the opposition. Along with this, advertisements will be aired on the birth anniversary or death anniversary of any leader or famous person in the government advertisement, but it will not serve the interest of any party.
Apart from this, privacy, electoral law and consumer protection should also be taken care of. At the same time, it has been advised to avoid printing pictures of leaders in any advertisement. If necessary, only the photo of the President, Prime Minister, Governor or Chief Minister can be used, but it should not be used to fulfill any political interest.
The rules were made by the Supreme Court
In 2015, the Supreme Court laid down rules for the supervision of government advertisements. For this, states were asked to set up their own three-member panels, which would monitor the content of government advertisements. Also, this three-member committee had to decide that the content of government advertisements should neither promote the interests of the ruling party nor glorify political personalities. If this happens, they can be fined.
AAP asked for complete details
Following the notice received by the Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia hit out at the BJP, saying it wanted to exercise ‘unconstitutional’ control over Delhi officials to target the Kejriwal government and its ministers. AAP has asked the secretary of DIP to list the advertisements related to what is illegal in them. Alice Vaz, Secretary, Directorate of Information and Publicity, has given a notice that from the year 2017, the expenses of Delhi government’s advertisements given in states outside Delhi will be recovered from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. On the other hand, AAP’s National Secretary Pankaj Kumar Gupta has demanded to provide copies of those advertisements on this recovery notice, the cost of which is to be recovered.
LG had also given recovery orders a month ago.
Just a month before this case, in December 2022, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi VK Saxena ordered the Chief Secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from AAP for publishing political advertisements in the guise of government advertisements. The interest levied on the said amount was also included in the recovery notice issued by the DIP. Along with this, orders were also given that from September 2016 till now all the advertisements of the Delhi Government will be scrutinized by the Exert Committee.
Expenditure on advertisements by Central-Delhi governments
On 13 December 2022, the Central Government told in the Lok Sabha that since 2014, it has spent Rs 6,491.56 crore on advertisements. Of this, Rs 3,260.79 crore has been spent on electronic media and Rs 3,230.77 crore on print media.
At the same time, in the beginning of the year 2022, an RTI (Right to Information Act) answer revealed that from 2012 to 2022, the advertisement expenditure of the Delhi government has increased by 4,200 percent. The Delhi government has spent Rs 488.97 crore on advertisement in the year 2021-22. Out of that, Rs 125 crore was spent in one month (March) itself.
According to a report, the total advertisement expenditure of the Delhi government in the year 2012-13 was Rs 11.18 crore. This was increased to Rs 488.97 crore by 2021-22. In fact, in December 2013, the 15-year term of the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government in Delhi came to an end.
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After that Rs 25.24 crore was spent on advertisement by the government in 2013-14. In the next year 2014-15, an amount of Rs 11.12 crore was spent on ‘other charges’. This was the year that Delhi was under the rule of the Lieutenant Governor as the Arvind Kejriwal government quit in February 2014 after 49 days of rule. Assembly elections were held only in 2015 and Kejriwal returned to power. After this, there was a huge jump in government advertising expenses and Rs 81.23 crore was spent in the year 2015-16. Thereafter, there was a slight decline in 2016-17 and the expenditure came down to Rs 67.25 crore. Then it increased sharply to Rs 117.76 crore in 2017-18. 45.54 crore in 2018-19. After that the expenditure increased four times to Rs 199.99 crore in 2019-20.
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Whereas during the Kovid-19 epidemic 2020-21, Rs 293.20 crore was spent. After that, a huge expenditure of Rs 488.97 crore was made in the year 2021-22. Whereas during Kovid, the lowest was Rs 2.54 lakh in April 2019 and the highest was Rs 125.15 crore in March 2021.
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Story first published: Saturday, January 14, 2023, 13:24 [IST]