The Centre on Tuesday asked the SC not to entertain matters that exclusively fall into the executive’s domain and asserted government advertisements cannot be censored by an ombudsman on the ground the party in power misuses them for political mileage.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi questioned the three-member committee’s suggestions to have an ombudsman for ensuring government advertisements were in consonance with the guidelines suggested by it. The committee comprised Professor NR Madhava Menon, former LS Secretary General TK Vishwanathan and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar – who was then not a government law officer.
As per the recommendations, names and pictures of political parties and their office bearers should not be mentioned in government advertisements. “Who is somebody to tell the government as to why are you spending 20% on defence and why not on education? This is outside the court’s purview,” Rohatgi told a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
This is the second time in less than a week that the Centre has objected to court’s alleged interference with the working of the executive. Last week, the AG had asked the Chief Justice’s bench not to entertain a PIL challenging former defence secretary ShashiKhant Sharma’s appointment as CAG.
Decriminalisation of politics
The SC observed it wasn’t possible to debar persons, against whom charges have been framed in a criminal case, from contesting elections, saying such an order was prone to misuse by rival groups.
“If a person is kept out at the stage of a chargesheet being filed against him and later a court acquits him, he loses the right to contest elections. If the court frames charges against a person and elections are announced and the HC, entertaining a petition quashes the charges, the statutory right (to contest polls) given to a candidate is taken away if in the meanwhile he cannot contest,” observed a three-judge bench.