SC reverses verdict, allows CMs, ministers' pics in ads

Pictures of union ministers, chief ministers, governors and state ministers can now appear in government advertisements, with the Supreme Court modifying its earlier order and allowing their publication on Thursday.

The verdict came on pleas by the Centre and states including poll-bound West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, which had sought review of the Supreme Court judgement barring publication of leaders' photos in advertisements except those of the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India, saying it infringed on their fundamental rights and federal structure.

''We review our judgement by which we have allowed the publication of pictures of the President of India and Prime Minister in the government advertisements. Now we allow the publication of pictures of union ministers of concerned departments, chief ministers, governors and state ministers of the concerned departments.

''Rest of the conditions and exceptions will remain as it is,'' a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P C Ghose said.

The apex court had on 9 March reserved its verdict on the review pleas in which it was submitted that besides Prime Minister, pictures of central ministers, chief ministers and others state ministers be allowed to be carried in public advertisements.

The court had earlier barred publication of photos of leaders in government advertisements except those of the President, PM and the CJI.

Earlier, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, had strongly favoured review of the verdict on various grounds including that if Prime Minister's photograph is allowed in the advertisements then the same right should be available to his cabinet colleagues as the PM is the ''first among the equals''.

The AG had also said that the chief ministers and their cabinet colleagues too should be allowed to feature in advertisements.

Besides Centre, states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh had also sought review of the 13 May 2015 verdict of the apex court.