India's newest telecom operator Reliance Jio and mobile wallet player Paytm have officially apologised for using Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph in their advertisements without permission.
Reliance Jio came out with print advertisements and television campaigns featuring Prime Minister just after its commercial launch on September. The advertisements resulted led to public interest litigation and political debate.
Paytm, on the other hand, issued advertisements on November 9 featuring Prime Minister Modi’s photograph welcoming the demonetization move of the government. The company, through its advertisements, also urged public to start using its digital wallet service.
Following the social media uproar over the usage of PM's pictures in commercial advertisements, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs had sent notices to Jio and PayTM under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act of 1950.
The Act bars use of Prime Minister's name and picture for commercial use.
Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said, "Clarifications were sought by the Department of Consumer Affairs from Paytm and Reliance Jio wherein they have apologised for their inadvertent mistake."
The consumer affairs department in the ministry recently advised the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to sensitise the media about the need to take prior permission before commercial usage of certain emblems and names prohibited by the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. Following which, the Ministry issued an advisory to print medium to check-up the permission from competent authority before issuing any advertisement wherein the emblem and names specified under the Act are mentioned, he added.
The minister said a committee is in place to approve use of Prime Minister's photo by private firms or if the government plans to introduce one.
As per the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, “No person shall, except in such cases and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government, use, or continue to use, for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design, any name or emblem specified in the Schedule or any imitation thereof without the previous permission of the Central Government or of such officer of Government as may be authorized in this behalf by the Central Government.
The Section 3 of the Act provides that no person shall use or continue to use any name or emblem for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession without the previous permission of the central government. The law provides that "any person who contravenes the provisions of Section 3 shall be punishable with fine, which may exceed to Rs 500".