Powerful political community wins over mute tax-payers at Supreme Court when Apex Court reviews its order on government-advertisements

Posted Sunday March 27, 2016 by Subhash Chandra Agrawal

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court is final even though it may be wrong’ was reminded when a division-bench of Apex Court reviewed its earlier order now allowing photos of Union cabinet ministers, state Governors, Chief Ministers and ministers in states also in addition to earlier allowed photos of President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India. It was indeed an all-win situation for political community cutting across party-lines over mute tax-payers of India because now an unholy race of costly multi-page newspaper-advertisements and long advertisement-films on TV channels will restart at heavy public-cost for glorification of political rulers. However a slight remedy for allowing photos of either Prime Minister/Chief Minister or the ministers may not allow government-advertisements full of only multiple photos. Media-reports indicate that government-advertisements witnessed a sharp decline during the period when Apex Court order allowing photos of only President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India was under implementation. Government-advertisements during this period concentrated more on information rather than unholy glorification of political rulers except that of Prime Minister.

Tax-payers do not include only affording payers of Income Tax. Even poorest of the poor pays tax on most essential items like salt and match-box. Argument put by Attorney General giving right for Union cabinet ministers was perfectly in order because Prime Minister is simply first amongst the equals. Likewise federal structure of Constitution does keep state Governors and Chief Ministers at par with President and Prime Minister respectively. But best and the alternate remedy was to ban photos of even Prime Minister in government-advertisements.

Supreme Court’s permission to allow photos of Chief Justice of India in government-advertisements is meaningless when the then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam did not allow printing of his photographs in government-advertisements on 26.09.2013 released for providing an exclusive PIN code number 110201 for Supreme Court where he was the Chief Guest for the occasion.

Chief Justice of India should rise to the occasion by constituting a larger bench to decide the issue afresh for safeguarding interests of mute tax-payers opposed by powerful political community through battery of costly lawyers! Only photos of President of India (and not even of state Governors) should be allowed in government-advertisements.

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