Reliance Jio and Paytm have apologised for their "inadvertent mistake" in using Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photograph in their advertisements without permission, the government today informed Parliament.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had sent notices to both the companies 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.
"Clarifications were sought by the Department of Consumer Affairs from Paytm and Reliance Jio wherein they have apologised for their inadvertent mistake," Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
The two companies used the photograph of the Prime Minister in their respective full page advertisements contravening the 'prior permission' stipulated under the Act, he said.
Based on the department's request, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has 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.
Responding to a query whether there is any mechanism to approve use of Prime Minister's photo by private firms or if the government plans to introduce one, the minister said a committee is in place to examine such proposals.
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".
In September last year, Reliance Jio had through its advertisements, dedicated the Reliance Jio 4G service to the Modi government's flagship Digital India project.
Full-page "Reliance Jio: Digital Life" 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.