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No Permission Taken for Reliance Jio-Modi Advertisement, says Govt

But there is no evidence of the government rushing to take remedial action against Reliance, or other big corporate offenders who appear to have turned the prime minister into a prop for their commercial advertising.

The Modi-Reliance Jio advertisement in newspapers.

The Modi-Reliance Jio advertisement in newspapers.

New Delhi: Did Reliance Jio secure permission from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for its controversial front-page newspaper advertisements that featured a full-page photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? According to Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, minister of state for I&B, no such permission was granted.

But if the use of Modi’s photograph was unauthorised, there is no evidence of the government rushing to take remedial action against Reliance, or other big corporate offenders who appear to have turned the prime minister into a prop for their commercial advertising.

The Wire at the time had reported on the improper nature of the advertisements.

On Thursday, parliament was told that the PMO did not grant permission for using the picture of Modi in print and electronic advertisements of Reliance Jio. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha to a question by Samajwadi Party’s Neeraj Shekhar, Rathore admitted that it was aware that Reliance Jio used the prime minister’s photographs in the advertisement.

 “Yes sir, the government was aware,” said Rathore, adding that no permission was granted by the PMO.

The Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), a media unit of the ministry, is the nodal agency for release of advertisements on the policies and programme of the government in various media vehicles, but “releases government advertisements only and does not release advertisements of any private body,” he said.

More importantly, it does not appear as if the government is going to take action against Jio for not taking permission.

When Shekhar sought to know whether any actions were going to be taken against Jio, because permission was not taken in advance, Rathore replied that the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950, is administered by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

The 1950 Act prohibits use of the name or likeness of the prime minister or “any name which may suggest or be calculated to suggest (i) the patronage of the Government of India or (ii) the Government of a State.”

The law, however, only envisages a fine of Rs 500 for the illegal use of official names or images or emblems.

Other advertisements

Using the prime minister’s photograph in a company advertisement usually requires permission. In The Wire‘s earlier story, Sanjaya Baru, former media adviser to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh, had pointed out that usually a private company  would have been required to obtain permission before embarking on such a brand or advertising campaign. “I would say that it would definitely be normal for the company and the prime minister’s office to talk first or for the company to ask for permission before this happened,” Baru” had told The Wire.

However, as the government points out, it is up to the consumer affairs ministry to tackle any potential violations. After Jio’s advertisement campaign, the most prominent usage of the prime minister’s photo was by digital wallet company Paytm – which, within an hour of Modi’s demonetisation speech, released for publication full-page print advertisements that thanked the prime minister for the “most boldest decision taken in this financial history of independent India”.

(With inputs from IANS)