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 custodian of 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.
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.
When asked what actions would be taken against the companies, he said: "We will see once we get the replies."
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 Jio 4G service to the Modi government's flagship Digital India project.
Full-page "Joi: 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 November 8, Paytm issued an advertisement welcoming the move as it boosted use of e-wallets likes the one it markets.
Sources said while Jio may have taken verbal approval of the Prime Minister's Office before using Modi's picture, there is no written permission.
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".