Reliance Jio, which used Prime Minister Narendra Modi's images in print and electronic advertisements, allegedly without the permission of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), can be fined only Rs.500 as penalty if charged, as per a provision in the Emblems and Names (prevention of improper use) Act of 1950.
But given how useless that particular denomination has become in the market these days, if the government really wanted to punish Jio, it would ask them to pay the price in Rs.500 currency.
According to the Act, "any person who contravenes the provisions of Section 3 shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees."
Yesterday, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha that the PMO had not given its permission to Jio to use the PM's photos. Rathore was responding to a question by Samajwadi Party's Neeraj Shekhar.
If the government decided to take action against Jio, if would have to be administered by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. Earlier, e-wallet Paytm had also used Modi's photo in its ad soon after demonetisation was announced.
The section states that "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 colourable imitation thereof without the previous permission of the Central Government or of such officer of Government as may be authorised in this behalf by the Central Government."