New Delhi: It is for the executive, and not the judiciary, to decide which politician's photo appears in advertisements, and the order banning politicians from appearing in government ads interferes with the common man's right to information, the Centre told the Supreme Court today.
The Centre is supporting an appeal by a number of non-BJP states that had appealed to the court, asking it to revise an earlier order that only allowed photographs of the Prime Minister, President and the Chief Justice of India on government advertisements.
The states have contended that it is for the executive, and not the judiciary, to decide which politicians' photos can appear in advertisements.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government, said in the constitution, a Chief Minister is as important as a Prime Minister.
Also, he said the concern about misuse of public money in putting out advertisements - which was the key concern of the petitioners who initially filed the case - is baseless, since "every penny is accounted for by the state and the Centre".
The court order, the Centre contended, clashes with the common man's right to information. Further, "under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution, the right to put out information as important as the right of people to receive it" Mr Rohatgi said. "Just because it is misused does not mean the law is bad."
The previous judgment, he added, had not taken all these factors into account.
The Court had earlier asked the other states to respond to the matter as well. The hearing in the case is on.