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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Haryana govt's pre-poll ad campaign challenged in HC

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 20, 2014
First Published: 23:52 IST(20/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:53 IST(20/8/2014)

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Punjab and Haryana high court, challenging the release of public funds to the tune of Rs. 100 crore in the past three months by the Congress-ruled Haryana government for massive advertising to project politicians and the ruling government in the run-up to the assembly elections.

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Panchkula resident Lt Col Nand Kishore (retd) approached the high court on Wednesday. Though his counsel made a request to hear the case on Wednesday itself, citing urgency, the division bench headed by acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta posted the matter for hearing on Thursday, as per procedure.

Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has also been made a party in the case, apart from other state government authorities.

The petitioner has sought directions to restrain the state government from the release of funds from the state-cum-public exchequer for misuse for furtherance of political motives. It has been alleged by the petitioner that the state government was circulating unregulated paid advertisements via various modes of telecommunication, print and social media.

It has been submitted that the budget of more than Rs. 113 crore was sanctioned for the intensive media campaign for the financial year 2014-15 out of public money. The petitioner has also submitted that the state government has already spent more than the estimated cost of Rs. 65.62 lakh on 14 short advertisements, films, jingles submitted by a single agency in the name of Swastika Entertainment Private Limited.

"These 14 short films include famous jingles 'Hooda Ji Ka Haryana', 'Mhara CM Sahab' etc., highlighting the name of Bhupinder Singh Hooda," reads the petition. It has been submitted that 36 more advertisement films have been submitted for the state government's approval by the same agency, at an estimated cost of Rs. 1.28 crore.

"It is further specific to observe that such advertisements have become more blatant and assume alarming proportions just before the announcement of the Haryana assembly elections," reads the petition. The petitioner added that the recent trend has been seen at the hands of the state government in publishing various advertisements in the form of 'aarti' (prayer) and 'patronising songs' projecting Hooda as the sole personality at the expense of the public exchequer.

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