The Patna High Court has ordered an interim ban on use of pictures of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his ministers as well as any other publicity material in the state government's ambitious "Badh Chala Bihar" campaign.
The court has passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by 'Nagarik Adhikar Manch' convenor and RTI activist Shiv Prakash Rai. The petition accused the state government of misusing public money in the name of campaign for publicity of the ruling Janata Dal (United).
Bihar Additional Advocate-General Lalit Kishore told PTI, "The court has ruled that photographs of chief minister, ministers or any other leader as well as audio-visual material will not be used during the Bihar Badh Chala (BCB) campaign."
Kishore said apart from this, data collection under the campaign would continue as usual and the court said it would hear the case again after four weeks.
"We argued that BCB is about knowing the problems and aspirations of crores of people from various walks of life residing in the state. It will lead to a purposeful document for any government which comes to power," Kishore added.
The court had earlier sought all documents related to BCB from the state government to decide whether the drive is a publicity move of JD(U) for the coming state election
Expressing happiness on the interim order, Rai said that he and his organisation would now press for recovery of money spent on the publicity of Bihar CM and his ministers.
Rai's counsel Dinu Kumar said, "The state government has said it is spending only Rs 14 crore and we are going to counter it.
"We pleaded before the court that use of the photos and audio-visual material of Bihar CM and his ministers in BCB were against the Supreme Court ruling of May 13 this year that only pictures of President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India could be used in government advertisement."
Badh Chala Bihar is an ambitious campaign launched with much fanfare by Kumar on June 9 this year to ensure extensive public participation in drafting of developmental policies and producing a Bihar vision document.
(With inputs from PTI)