Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Paytm on Friday apologised for using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture in their advertisements, PTI reported. The central government had served notices to the two companies for using Modi’s picture in the ads without permission. The companies might also face penalties for having done this.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had sent notices under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act of 1950, which bars using the prime minister’s name and picture for commercial purposes. The Consumer Affairs Ministry has also written a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, asking it to publicise that firms need to obtain “prior permission” before using certain emblems and insignia.

“The PM would have the same rights as any individual not to be seen as endorsing a brand without consent,” said a senior lawyer had told Economic Times.

Modi had featured in a Reliance Jio advertisement in September last year, and Paytm had used his photograph after the Centre announced its demonetisation move on November 8. Paytm advertised in newspapers, congratulating Modi on demonetisation, calling it the “boldest decision in the financial history of independent India”.

Jio’s use of Modi’s photographs in its advertising campaign following its launch was sharply criticised by both members of the public as well as political parties, including Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal. On December 2, the Prime Minister’s Office had said that it did not give Reliance Jio the permission to use Modi’s picture in print and electronic advertisements for its product.