On 17 August 2015, Supreme Court has issued notice to the Central Government asking if it had set up a three-member ombudsman to keep a watch on misuse of public funds by government and its authorities in issuing public advertisements and the reasons if the same has not been done. Court has given a time of four weeks for the reply.
Earlier on 13 May 2015, deciding a 12-year-old Public Interest Litigation matter, Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh had prohibited the use of photographs of politicians or leaders other than the President, Prime Minister or the Chief Justice of India, in print ads placed by the government. Bench has also directed the government to appoint a three-member panel of ombudsman to ensure the compliance of its directions.
Inter alia, the Court had ordered:
…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 government should constitute a three member body consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields. We could have but we refrain from naming the specific persons and leave the said exercise to be performed by the Union Government.
Subsequently a Petition was filed by the petitioner – Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Aam Aadmi Party’s Delhi Government and AIADMK’s Tamil Nadu government for not abiding by SC ruling on public advertisements.
After the Court’s order, advocate Prashant Bhushan who appeared in the matter tweeted: