Madras High Court: A Division Bench of Munishwar Nath Bhandari, CJ and S. Ananthi, J. directed the State Government to ensure that the photographs of both the President and Prime Minister of India are published in all the advertisements – whether in print or electronic media, in relation to the Chess Olympiad in adherence with the directions laid down by the Supreme Court in Common Cause v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 1. These directions were given when it was brought to the notice of the Court that the photograph of only the Chief Minister of the State was published in all the media in the advertisements barring the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister of India, for an international event i.e., 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held in Chennai, India from 28-07-2022 to 10-08-2022.
The petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to declare the use of sole photograph of the Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu in advertisements/promotions of the 44th Chess Olympiad as illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the directions issued in the Common Cause case (supra) and State of Karnataka v. Common Cause, (2016) 13 SCC 639 and consequently, issue direction to respondent 1 to advertise/promote the 44th Chess Olympiad in terms of the directions issued by Supreme Court in Common Cause v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 1 and include the photographs of the Prime Minister of India and President of India for the said advertisement/promotion.
The Court refuted the submissions given by the State for not including photographs of PM and President in the advertisements. The Court noted that the reason assigned by the State Government that the Presidential elections were not concluded and, therefore, the photograph of the 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 President of India. The excuse taken by the respondents for non-publication of the photograph of the Prime Minister due to receipt of the consent from his office belatedly is also not acceptable. The photograph of the Prime Minister was required to be published even if he could not have inaugurated the event. What has to be noted here is that despite Parliament session, the Prime Minister has decided to inaugurate the function, considering the significance of the event at the international level.
The Court further noted that considering the national interest and the directives of the Supreme Court in the case of Common Cause v. Union of India, (2015) 7 SCC 1, it should be ensured that even if the dignitaries like the 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.
Thus, the Court directed the State Government to ensure that the photographs of both the 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 Court further directed the district administration to 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 to be taken against such personnel.
[R Rajesh Kumar v. State of Tamil Nadu, WP (MD) No. 16887 of 2022, decided on 28-07-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Aditya Dewan for Mr. V.R. Shanmuganathan, for the Petitioner;
Mr. R. Shanmugasundaram, Advocate General assisted by Mr. P. Thilakkumar, Government Pleader and Ms. Shakeena, Government Advocate for R1 Mr. Veera Kathiravan Additional Advocate General assisted by Mr.P. Thilakkumar, Government Pleader for R2 Ms. L. Victoria Gowri, Additional Solicitor General of India, assisted by Mr. S. Jeyasingh, Central Government Standing Counsel for R3.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.