Notices sent to Reliance Jio, Paytm for using PM Modi’s photo in ads, says official

Ministry of consumer affairs sent the notices to Reliance Jio and Paytm under the Emblems and Names Act, 1950 which bars use of PM’s name and picture for commercial use


Officials said while Reliance Jio may have taken verbal approval of the prime minister’s office before using Modi’s picture, there is no written permission. Photo: PTI
Officials said while Reliance Jio may have taken verbal approval of the prime minister’s office before using Modi’s picture, there is no written permission. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The government has slapped notices on billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm and Paytm for using the prime minister’s photograph in their advertisements.

The ministry of consumer affairs, which is the custodian of the prestige of high offices like president and prime minister as well as historic figures, sent the notices under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act of 1950, which bars use of prime minister’s name and picture for commercial use.

“We have sent notices to both (the companies) for using PM’s picture in their advertisement. We are yet to receive their response,” consumer affairs secretary Hem Pande told PTI. When asked what actions would be taken against the companies, he said: “We will see once we get the replies.”

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The Act provides for a nominal financial penalty for violations but more than the monetary fine holding guilty of for improper use of prime minister’s name has ramification on the company’s image. While Paytm declined to comment on the issue, e-mails sent to Reliance Jio Infocomm remained unanswered.

In September last year, Reliance Jio had through its ads, dedicated the Reliance Jio 4G service to the Modi government’s flagship Digital India project. Full-page “Reliance Jio: Digital Life” jacket advertisements were published with a photograph of the prime minister, dressed in a blue jacket, triggering a political controversy.

After the government announced the demonetisation decision on 8 November, Paytm issued an advertisement welcoming the move as it boosted use of e-wallets likes the one it markets. Officials said while Reliance Jio may have taken verbal approval of the prime minister’s office before using Modi’s picture, there is no written permission.

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