Paytm and Reliance Jio Infocomm were served with notices by the government for using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph in their advertisements, reported Economic Times on Saturday. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution has asked the companies whether they had taken prior permission before using the photograph. According to the report, three unnamed officials from the department confirmed the move.
Apart from this, the consumer affairs department has also reportedly advised the ministry of information and broadcasting to sensitise the media on the need to obtain “prior permission” before commercial usage of specific emblems and names prohibited by the The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. While Paytm had earlier applauded PM Modi’s demonetisation decision urging people to switch to digital transactions, Reliance Jio had claimed it was furthering the government’s ‘Digital India’ move.
The two companies came under severe criticism as many lashed out at the move. Last year, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi referred to PayTM — the payment gateway has seen a huge growth in numbers since the November 8 announcement — as “Pay to Modi”. “That is the idea behind a cashless economy. That a few people should get maximum benefit from every transaction. That is what is going on,” Rahul said. Hitting out at Modi over demonetisation, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had said, “India’s prime minister has become a salesman for a company(Paytm), 40% shares of which are owned by a blacklisted Chinese company.”