SC declines early hearing of Sheila Dikshit’s ad campaign spend

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday declined to hold an early hearing of a PIL seeking to restrain the Delhi government from continuing with its advertisement campaign focusing on Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and her administration’s achievements.

As advocate M.L. Sharma, who filed the public interest litigation (PIL), told the court that the Delhi government was spending huge amounts of public money for its ad campaign, the apex court bench of Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Madan B. Lokur said the matter was not one which should be taken up during the vacation, and the same could come in due course.

Pressing for an early hearing, Sharma told the court that the Delhi government intended to spend another Rs.100 crore on the ad campaign through radio, TV, newspapers and other mediums in the run-up to the elections for the state assembly, slated later this year.

He also told the court that Delhi Lokayuta Justice Manmohan Sarin has submitted a report to President Pranab Mukherjee, adversely commenting on the money spent on the ad campaign that was spent by Delhi government prior to last assembly election in 2008.

Questioning the locus standi of the petitioner-advocate, Justice Misra asked Sharma where he got all the figures, and said that the matter could be taken up even in July or August. Justice Lokur said that Rs.100 crore cannot be spent in one month’s time.

The PIL has also sought direction seeking to declare the ongoing media blitz by Delhi government as “illegal and unconstitutional” as same was being done to gain political mileage at the expense of State exchequer in the election year.

The PIL has also sought direction to recover entire amount of Rs.21 crore, which has been spent so far with interest from the chief minister and the Congress Party.

Sharma has sought registration of a criminal case against Dikshit under Section 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust) and the Prevention of Corruption Act for misusing public money in the garb of media campaign.

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