The State Government on Tuesday constituted a non-official Committee to oversee implementation of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court regarding issuance of public advertisements.
According to an order issued by Mr B B Vyas, Financial Commissioner/Secretary to the Government Information Department in this regard, former Director Information, Mr K B Jandial shall be the Chairman of the 4-Member Committee.
The Members of the Committee include, Ms Sabeha Mufti, Associate Professor, Media Education Research Centre (MERC), University of Kashmir and Mr Manmohan Khajuria, Special Officer, Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) Jammu. Mr Abdul Majid Zargar, Joint Director Information (Headquarters) shall be the Member Secretary of the Committee.
As per the Govt order, the term of the Committee shall be one year from the date of its constitution.
The terms of reference of the Committee include overseeing implementation of the directions passed by the Supreme Court in WP © 13 of 2003 and WP © No: 197 of 2004 read with WP © No: 302 of 2012.
The Supreme Court guidelines pertain to restricted publication of photographs of the Government functionaries and political leaders alongwith the government advertisements and embargo on advertisements on the eve of the elections.
The Supreme Court guidelines state that the names and pictures of political parties and their office bearers like presidents should not be mentioned in government advertisements in any case.
The judgment was delivered in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which was filed in 2003 by an NGO Common Cause and was directed against successive governments, both in states and at the Centre. Common Cause contended that although the governments have the Advertisement Policies in place, these were not effective enough to counter the manipulation of public opinion by politicized advertisements.
The PIL asked why public money should be squandered on publicity expenses for political leaders when the only purpose of such advertisements should be to inform the public, nothing more?
Holding that there had been “misuse and abuse” of public money on such advertisements, the Apex Court observed that the advertising campaigns are to be related to government responsibilities, materials should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner and designed to meet objectives of the campaign and not directed at promoting political interests of a party. “Campaigns must be justified and undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner and advertisements must comply with legal requirements and financial regulations and procedures,” it said.
“Insofar as the recommendation are concerned, we are of the view that for ironing out the creases that are bound to show from time to time in the implementation of the present directions and to oversee such implementation, the respective governments should constitute a three member body consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields,” the Supreme Court had observed in its directions.
The non-official Committee, constituted by the State Government, shall also monitor the content of the advertisements telecast on Cable TV Channels to ensure implementation of Cable TV Network (Regulation Act -1995) and the rules framed there-under.
The Committee shall also monitor content of Community Radio Stations operating in J&K State to prevent misuse of CRS.