Jio, Paytm Get Em­broiled in an Im­age Prob­lem

Cos get no­tice for us­ing PM’s photo in ads, may have to pay penal­ties too

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Deepali Gupta & Nishtha Saluja

Mum­bai | New Delhi: The gov­ern­ment has is­sued no­tices to Paytm and Reliance Jio In­fo­comm ask­ing them whether they had taken prior per­mis­sion be­fore us­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s pho­to­graphs on ad­ver­tise­ments of their prod­ucts.

An of­fi­cial with the min­istry of con­sumer af­fairs, food and pub­lic dis­tri­bu­tion con­firmed the move, adding that the com­pa­nies may also face penal­ties in the com­ing week. Two other min­istry of­fi­cials also con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment.

The con­sumer af­fairs depart­ment in the min­istry has also writ­ten to the min­istry of in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing, ad­vis­ing it to sen­si­tise the me­dia about the need to ob­tain “prior per­mis­sion” be­fore com­mer­cial us­age of cer­tain em­blems and names pro­hib­ited by the The Em­blems and Names (Preven-

tion of Im­proper Use) Act, 1950.

Reliance Jio’s use of the prime min­is­ter’s pho­to­graph in full­page ad­ver­tise­ments is­sued by the telco in Septem­ber last year trig­gered a po­lit­i­cal de­bate and also led to a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion. On Novem­ber 9, hours after Modi an­nounced the de­mon­eti­sa­tion ex­er­cise the pre­vi­ous night, Paytm wel­comed the de­ci­sion and urged pub­lic to start us­ing its dig­i­tal wal­let ser­vice by is­su­ing an ad­ver­tise­ment which had the prime min­is­ter’s pho­to­graph on it.

Nei­ther Reliance Jio nor Paytm re­sponded to email queries from ET on the is­sue. Emails and calls to Paytm founder Vi­jay Shekhar Sharma went unan­swered.

“Cer­tainly, pri­vate en­ti­ties can­not use of­fi­cial em­blems and in­signia with­out per­mis­sion. It is strange that this gov­ern­ment is wak­ing up after so long since this has been go­ing on for months,” said Supreme Court lawyer Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi.

The 1950 Act states that “…No person shall, ex­cept in such cases and un­der such con­di­tions as may be pre­scribed by the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment use… for the pur­pose of any trade, busi­ness, call­ing or pro­fes­sion… any name or em­blem spec­i­fied in the Sched­ule or, any colourable im­i­ta­tion thereof with­out the pre­vi­ous per­mis­sion of the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment or of such of­fi­cer of Gov­ern­ment as may be au­tho­rised in this be­half by the Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment.” In Jan­uary, the gov­ern­ment had ex­pressed dis­plea­sure at such unau­tho­rised use of the PM’s pho­to­graph when the Khadi and Vil­lage In­dus­tries Com­mis­sion used his pic­ture in its cal­en­dar. “The talk of is­su­ing no­tice started there be­cause it seemed like a ris­ing wave,” said the of­fi­cial quoted ear­lier. “The PM would have the same rights as any in­di­vid­ual not to be seen as en­dors­ing a brand with­out con­sent,” said a se­nior high court lawyer.

Reliance Jio has taken on do­mes­tic and for­eign com­peti­tors with a mas­sive .₹ 1.5-lakh crore in­vest­ment. It rolled out ser­vices last year with a high-pro­file con­tro­ver­sial free ser­vice of­fer which has now been ex­tended to March. The com­pany pro­jected it was fur­ther­ing the PM’s ‘Dig­i­tal In­dia’ agenda by of­fer­ing free voice ser­vice and high-speed broad­band ser­vices.

“It is pos­si­ble to ar­gue there should be reg­u­la­tion against mis­use of the PM’s im­age, but so far there have been no reper­cus­sions. On bal­ance, the com­pa­nies may feel they have got value for the mea­sure,” said San­tosh De­sai, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Fu­ture Brands.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.