The Delhi HC told the AAP government on Thursday that, in a democracy, there cannot be pre-censorship. Responding to the policy on display of an advertisement on auto-rickshaws a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Pratibha M Singh said, “In a democracy, it (pre-censorship) should not be done. What is the need for pre-censorship or prohibition of political advertisement? How can you do it? A citizen can be political”.
It further added that if an advertisement is obscene or drills communal dispute, the government must take necessary steps against it. The Delhi government, meanwhile, told the court that it is coming out with a new policy concerning the display of an advertisement on public service vehicles (PSVs), including auto rickshaws, and in that the prohibition against political ads would be removed.
It also pushed for a pre-censorship which the court denied. The matter will be next heard on August 9, giving time to the government to place its policy before the court.
Notably, the court was hearing a PIL by filed by some auto unions against the then Delhi government’s August 2014 policy on display of advertisements on PSVs, particularly the bar on political ads and the provision allowing pre-censorship.