Right to Advertise on Public Service Vehicles

A writ petition, Satish Saluja vs Government of NCT of Delhi, W.P. (C) No. 3990 of 2013, was filed before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, challenging an order, dated 06.06.2013, issued by the Delhi Government banning display of advertisements on public service vehicles without express permission. During the course of the petition, the Delhi Government, in July 2014, issued fresh 'Guidelines for Display of Advertisements on Public Service Vehicles', under Rule 71(2) of the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules 1993, read with, Section 96(2)(xviii) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. These were again objected to by the aforesaid Petitioners on the limited grounds that firstly, it led to blanket prohibition of all 'political' speech violating Article 19(1)(a) and secondly, the guidelines were discriminatory under Article 14.

iJutsice filed an impleadment application in the aforesaid matter on the ground that the impugned Guidelines not only imposed blanket prohibition on all 'political' speech but also all religious, ethnic, sectarian and many other kinds of speech. The challenge was based on the grounds that firstly, the impugned Guidelines are not in accord with the parent statute (The Motor Vehicles Act), in so far as the latter does not provide for regulation of content of advertisement and hence are ultra vires; secondly, the impugned Guidelines impose blanket prohibition on any kind of advertisement that contain political, ethnic, religious or sectarian text, sexual and controversial text, etc. and hence violate the right to freedom of speech recognized under Article 19(1)(a) and is not saved by Article 19(2); and thirdly, the impugned Guidelines not only give arbitrary power to the Government, but also infringe upon the doctrine of reasonable classification, and hence violate Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Hon'ble High Court heard the application, on 05.09.2014, and granted leave to the Applicant, iJustice, to file a fresh petition to challenge the impugned Guidelines.