Delhi government’s guidelines banning political advertisements on public service vehicles have been challenged in the Delhi high court.
The plea states the guidelines interfere with the right of smaller political parties to express their views through advertisements on public vehicles, which are a cheap medium.
The guidelines issued by the transport department and approved by L-G Jung on May 19, were submitted before a division bench of justice BD Ahmed and justice Siddharth Mridul earlier this month.
It states that approvals will not be granted if the advertisement contains “political, ethnic, religious or sectarian text”.
The petition filed by auto union pleaded that auto-rickshaw drivers be allowed to display political advertisements on their vehicles. The plea contended that larger political parties have means and “they spent lakhs and crores on advertisements to express their views to public”.
The plea terms the guidelines as “an attempt to interfere with the constitutional rights of the smaller political parties”.
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 having GPS systems.
Advertisements 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.
Public vehicles in Delhi include all public transport options from rickshaws to buses run by contractors or Delhi Transport Corporation.
In June last year, the former Sheila Dikshit government courted controversy by banning advertisements on public vehicles after auto-rickshaws started sporting AAP posters in the run-up to the Delhi elections.
The auto unions approached the high court alleging the order was “discriminatory” since the Motor Vehicles Act allows government to only regulate and not prohibit advertisements on vehicles.