Centre asks states to comply with SC directive to set up panels for ad content regulation

The centre has asked state governments to constitute state-level committees to monitor and regulate content in government advertisement as directed by the Supreme Court lest it may construed as contempt of court.

As per directions of the Supreme Court, states are mandated to set up three member committees on content regulation of government advertisements. Karnataka, Goa, Mizoram and Nagaland have already constituted state-level three member committees. The government of Chhattisgarh has given its consent to the central committee to monitor the content of their government advertisements.
The 19th meeting of the Supreme Court -mandated Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) held (virtually) on 4 September, took a serious note of the fact that other states have yet to constitute their respective state level Committees. 
The CCRGA was of the view that some state governments’ delay in setting up the state-level committees may be construed as contempt of the Supreme Court’s order.
The CCRGA’s attention was also drawn to the fact that some respondents were yet to furnish their replies to the notices issued to them in response to the complaints received by the committee.
In view of the current Covid19 pandemic the committee decided to allow further time to respondents to furnish their replies to the notices in all the pending complaints lodged with the committee.
The CCRGA felt that non-compliance of its decisions was a serious matter. It was of the considered opinion that in the event of any non-compliance of CCRGA’s orders, the committee may be constrained to put embargo on issue of further advertisements by nodal agencies of concerned governments, which come under the purview of this committee.
The committee may, if necessary, also decide to summon the concerned official of the government agencies dealing with release of advertisements in the event of undue delay in responding to committee’s notices.
It may be recalled that as per the directions of Supreme Court on 13 May 2015, the Government of India on 6 April 2016 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. Under the Supreme Court’s guidelines dated 13 May 2015 – “the content of government advertisement should be relevant to the government’s constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizen’s right and entitlements”. “Advertisement materials should be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner and designed to meet the objectives of the campaign,” the Supreme Court observed. Also, it said, “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.”
The meeting, chaired by Om Prakash Rawat, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, was attended by two other members, Ramesh Narayan of Asian Federation of Advertising Associations and past President, IAA and Ashok Kumar Tandon, part-time member, Prasar Bharti board.
The committee is empowered to address complaints from the general public on violation of the Supreme Court’s guidelines and make suitable recommendations. Complaints may be filed before the committee on its address: The Member Secretary, Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA), Room No 469, 4th Floor, Soochna Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003 (Contact No. 011-24367810,  whatsapp No. +91 9599896993) or to its email: ms.ccrga@gmail.com .