The Patna high court on Tuesday ordered a ban on the use of pictures of chief minister Nitish Kumar and his ministers as well as any other publicity material for the state government’s ambitious ‘Badh Chala Bihar’ campaign.
A division bench of chief justice L Narasimha Reddy and justice Anjana Mishra, however, allowed the departments concerned to continue collecting relevant data under the programme and posted the matter for further hearing after a month.
The bench was hearing a petition by NGO Nagarik Adhikar Manch that accused the state government of misusing public money “for publicity of the ruling Janata Dal (United)”.
“Nearly 400 hi-tech trucks were commissioned by the state government for the publicity of the JD(U) in view of the state assembly elections later in the year,” the petitioner said.
Another petitioner claimed that government departments had already collected data from villages and formulated various development schemes which were yet to be implemented, adding that the campaign was unnecessary and unwarranted.
The court had on Monday sought all documents related to the drive from the state government to decide if it was a publicity move by the JD(U).
In its reply, the state government said no truck had been purchased for the campaign which will cost it only Rs 14 crore.
It said under the scheme, it was collecting data from 40,000 villages across the state regarding problems faced by villagers so that a vision document for growth could be prepared.
Principal additional advocate general Lalit Kishore said till now, 18,000 villages have been covered and no money has been paid to the agency engaged by the government for the work.