Plea in HC against guidelines banning political ads on PSVs

Plea in HC against guidelines banning political ads on PSVs

Plea in HC against guidelines banning political ads on PSVs

An auto union has moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the city government's guidelines banning political advertisements on public service vehicles (PSVs).

The auto union's plea contends that the guidelines "interfere" with the right of smaller political parties to express their political views via advertisement on auto-rickshaws, or any other public service vehicles.

The issue of political advertisements being not allowed as per the latest guidelines has already been raised before the high court.

On August 1, the city government had placed before a bench of justices B D Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul its latest guidelines for display of advertisements on PSVs, as per which any advertisement containing political, ethnic, religious or sectarian text will not be permitted.

Advocate Pranav Sachdeva, appearing for some auto drivers, had objected to the inclusion of the word 'political' in the guidelines.

The bench had asked the petitioners to file a fresh application opposing the guidelines if they were aggrieved by it and said "then we will consider it". The matter is listed for hearing on August 22.

The fresh plea filed by the auto union has sought that they be allowed to display advertisements or social messages, having political content, on their vehicles, saying the guidelines have been notified at the instance of major ruling political parties.

"The guidelines suffer from mala fide as it has been finalised and notified at the instance of major ruling parties in an attempt to interfere with the constitutional rights of the smaller political parties," the auto union's plea has said.

"It is only the small political parties who face difficulty to mete out such huge expanses and rather choose cheaper method to convey their political ideas at large," it also said.

The new guidelines specify the system of approvals for advertisements and the areas where they can be displayed.

Advertisements cannot be displayed without approval from municipal bodies and are allowed only for vehicles which have installed GPS/GPRS systems, the guidelines also say.

Apart from political advertisements, those on sale of alcohol or tobacco products or those that refer to violence, indecency, obscenity, cruelty to animals or promotion of any racist or sectarian behaviour have also been banned.

PSVs in Delhi include all public transport options from rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, taxis, school buses and buses run by contractors or Delhi Transport Corporation.

In June last year, the then government had banned advertisements on PSVs after auto-rickshaws started sporting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) posters in the run-up to the Delhi elections.

Thereafter, the high court had stayed the Delhi government's ban.

Subsequently, in May this year, the city government had informed the court that it is in the process of finalising the general guidelines for allowing advertisements on public service vehicles and the same is under submission for approval of the Lt Governor.

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