Delhi Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena has directed Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to implement a 2016 order of the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA).

 

What is CCRGA?

  • As per the directions of the Supreme Court on 13th May, 2015, the Government of India on 6th April, 2016 had set up a three member body consisting of “persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields”, to look into content regulation of government funded advertisements of all media platforms.
  • As per directions of the Supreme Court, states are mandated to set up their respective three member committees on Content Regulation of Government Advertisements. Karnataka, Goa, Mizoram and Nagaland States have already constituted state-level Three Member Committees. The State Government of Chhattisgarh has given its consent to the Central Committee to monitor the content of their government advertisements.

 

Guidelines –

  • Under the Supreme Court’s guidelines– “the content of Government Advertisement should be relevant to the governments constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizens right and entitlements”.
  • The Supreme Court has 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.

 

What is the present controversy?

  • In 2016, the CCRGA issued notices to the Delhi government on allegations of violation of the SC-mandated guidelines in publishing advertisements.
  • Delhi Government’s Response –
    • In its response, the Delhi government informed the CCRGA that it was going to form a committee of its own as per the 2015 order of the SC.
      • SC order mandated that States have to set up their own respective bodies to regulate government advertisements’ content.
  • However, the Delhi High Court ruled in August, 2016 that Union Territories are not authorised to constitute their own committees and will therefore, come under the jurisdiction of the CCRGA.
  • The CCRGA, after its investigation, passed an order that a number of Delhi government advertisements had violated the guidelines on various fronts.
    • The committee also directed the Delhi government Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP), which issues government campaigns, to identify specific advertisements, quantify the money spent on them, and recover it from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
    • After quantifying an amount of approximately Rs. 97 crores spent on these advertisements, the DIP in 2017 had directed AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to pay Rs. 42 crores to the State exchequer immediately.
    • The remaining amount shall be paid within the next 30 days.
  • However, even after 5 years since the DIP passed the order, the AAP has not paid the above mentioned amount.

 

Delhi Government’s Response

The party, since forming the government in 2015, has been defending its spending on advertisements stating that it is for public knowledge of different government schemes and various awareness campaigns.