Madras HC Directs State To Include Photographs Of PM And President In Every Advertisement Relating To Chess Olympiad
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu Government to include photographs of the Prime Minister and President in all the advertisements for the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice S. Ananthi observed –
"…we direct the State Government to ensure that the photographs of both the Hon'ble President and Prime Minister of India are published in all the advertisements - whether in print or electronic media, in relation to the Chess Olympiad. The State Government should take care that if any international event is hosted in the State, the directives issued in the case of Common Cause, supra, are adhered to stricto sensu, by including the names of the dignitaries as stipulated therein."
The Petitioner had filed a Writ Petition before the High Court contending that the advertisements of the Chess Olympiad 2022 published in various media only showed the photograph of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, whereas the photograph of the President of India and Prime Minister should have also been published for the international event in Chennai.
Further, the Petitioner had argued that despite the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Common Cause v. Union of India (2015) 7 SCC 1, and the subsequent judgment in the case of State of Karnataka v. Common Cause, (2016) 13 SCC 639 directing the publication of photographs of the President and Prime Minister, these directions were not followed.
The Counsel appearing for the Petition further also argued that whenever an international event is scheduled in the country, it would not be an event of the State where it is hosted, but would be at the National level and, therefore, in no case, the prominence of the office of the President and the Prime Minister can be forgotten.
Also, it was urged that the advertisements are published using public money, and thus the respondents should seek an apology from the public for non-compliance with the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Common Cause, supra, for having not published the photographs of the Hon'ble President and Prime Minister.
A further direction was also sought that the State should ensure that in future strict compliance with the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Common Cause (supra) must be followed.
While the State argued that the State Government never intended to exclude the publication of the photographs of the Hon'ble President or the Prime Minister of India in the advertisements. In fact, when the respondents were doing the groundwork for organizing the tournament and even advertising in all the media, the Presidential elections were not concluded and, thus, they could not include the photograph of the Hon'ble President of India.
The High Court noted, "When our country is hosting such an international event, it is the bounden duty of one and all to ensure that such function is organized efficiently and we leave an indelible mark at the international level. It is more so when our country is known for its hospitality and efficiency. Thus, the image of the nation should be of foremost concern to everyone and such representation, obviously, would be under the aegis of the Hon'ble President and Prime Minister of India, apart from the Chief Minister of the State, where the tournament is hosted."
The Court also noted that the Respondents were required to remain vigilant in implementing the directions of the Apex Court while publishing advertisements to promote the event and it should have been with the inclusion of the photographs of the Prime Ministers and President of India.
"The reason assigned by the State Government that the Presidential elections were not concluded and, therefore, the photograph of the Hon'ble President of India was not published, cannot be accepted, because the advertisements were issued even after the declaration of the result of the Presidential elections without the photograph of the Hon'ble President of India," added the High Court.
Additionally, the Bench also held, "Considering the national interest and the directives of the Apex Court in the case of Common Cause, supra, it should be ensured that even if the dignitaries like the Hon'ble President or the Prime Minister of India accept the invitation for an international event or not, the advertisements should contain their photographs, inasmuch as they represent the country at the international level."
With respect to the contention of the Petitioner that an apology must be made by the State Government to the public, the Court held, "We find realization of the mistake by the organizers and the best way to seek apology is to respect the sentiments of the public and make the international event a grand success by leaving an indelible mark of our nation at the international level."
The Court also directed the district administration to ensure that no destruction is caused to any of the advertisements published containing the photographs of the Prime Minister and President apart from the Chief Minister. If such activities are reported, strict action must be taken against such personnel and disposed of the Petition.
Cause Title - R.Rajesh Kumar v. The State of Tamilnadu, Represented by its Chief Secretary to Government & Ors.