The Madras High Court on Thursday pulled up the Tamil Nadu government for not carrying the photographs of both the President and the Prime Minister in all its advertisements/promotional activities for the 44th Chess Olympiad that was being held in Mamallapuram.
Turning down the reasons offered by the State government for not carrying the photographs of the duo, the first bench of Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice S Ananthi said considering the national interest and the directives of the Supreme Court in the case of Common Cause, it should be ensured that even if dignitaries like the President or the PM accept the invitation for an international event or not, the advertisements should contain their photographs, in as much as they represent the country at the international level.
The bench was disposing of an urgent PIL moved by R Rajesh Kumar of Madurai seeking to declare the use of the photograph of State Chief Minister M K Stalin alone in all the advertisement/promotion of the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held at Mamallapuram from July 28 July to August 10 as illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the directions issued by the top court in several cases and consequently direct the Tamil Nadu government to carry the photos of the President and the Prime Minister in the advertisements.
Earlier, Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram submitted that when the state government was doing the groundwork for organising the tournament and to advertise in all the media, the Presidential elections were not concluded and thus, they could not include the photograph of the President.
Insofar as the Prime Minister is concerned, the consent to inaugurate the function was given only on July 22. The photograph of the Prime Minister is published pursuant to his consent in all the advertisements, he said adding the State government had never intended to flout the directives of the SC and there is no ill-intention behind such non-publication. He, therefore, submitted that the writ petition should be rendered infructuous and be dismissed accordingly.
Rejecting the submissions, the bench said the interest of the nation should be of paramount importance in the mind of every citizen. International events hosted depict the image of the country in the international fora. It not only showed the development of the country, but its capability to organise an international event at such short notice.
Keeping the aforesaid object in mind, every government should work, including the State Government.
The case on hand related to an international event.
"When our country is hosting such an international event, it is the bounden duty of one and all to ensure such a function is organised 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 President and Prime Minister of India, apart from the Chief Minister of the State, where the tournament is hosted," the judges said.
The reason assigned by the State that the Presidential elections were not concluded and, therefore, the photograph was not published, cannot be accepted, because the advertisements were issued even after the declaration of the result of the Presidential elections without the concerned photograph, the bench pointed out.
The 'excuse' taken by the government for non-publication of the photo of the PM due to receipt of the consent from his office belatedly is also not acceptable, as his photograph was required to be published even if he could not have inaugurated the event.
What has to be noted here is that despite the Parliament session, the Prime Minister has decided to inaugurate the function, considering the significance of the event at the international level, the judges noted.
"For the reasons aforesaid, both the excuses taken by the State government cannot be accepted. It is, however, a fact that now the photographs of the PM are published in the advertisements to promote the international event. However, the photograph of the President still does not find a place in any of the advertisements. The reason whatsoever can never be endorsed by this court in the light of the directives of the Supreme Court," the judges said.
"In such a view of the matter, we direct the State government to ensure that the photographs of both the President and Prime Minister are published in all the advertisements - whether in print or electronic media, in relation to the Chess Olympiad. The government should take care that if any international event is hosted in the State, the directives issued in the case of Common Cause by the Apex Court are adhered to stricto sensu, by including the names of the dignitaries as stipulated therein,", the bench said.
The bench also noted that a prayer has been made to direct the State government to seek apology from the public, inasmuch as public money is utilised for advertising the international event.
"We find realisation of the mistake by the organisers 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 on our nation at the international level," the bench said and made it clear that the district administration should ensure that no damage or destruction is caused to any of the advertisements published containing the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister, apart from the Chief Minister, and if any such activities are reported, strict action should be taken against such persons.
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