The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra Government to file a reply to a PIL, which seeks to ban government advertisements in print and electronic media ahead of the forthcoming state Assembly polls. Hearing the PIL, a bench of justices Abhay Oka and G S Kulkarni on Wednesday asked the state to file a reply by August 27. The judges also asked the state to inform about its total budget on advertisements and also explain its policy on the issue.
The PIL, filed by former MLA Bapusaheb Mane, alleged that the state was spending a lot of money on advertisements of government projects, many of which are either incomplete or pending. The petition alleged that the government had spent Rs 229 crore and Rs 50 crore on print and electronic media respectively. Lawyer Uday Warunjikar argued that the State should be restrained from issuing further advertisements as elections were round the corner.
Projects are left incomplete mainly due to financial constraints and spending money on advertisements further drains out the government funds, the lawyer argued. Warunjikar also sought to know the rationale behind spending money on advertisements when the government was finding it difficult even to pay salaries to its staff. Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani said the state government had a policy to issue advertisements to the media to inform them about the state-sponsored schemes and projects. If government schemes are not made known to the people they would remain only on paper and would not reach the masses. The matter has been posted for hearing on August 27.