Nation Current Affairs 25 May 2018 Missing Rules: Campa ...

Missing Rules: Campaign goes social right up to the elections

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | S.A. ISHAQUI
Published May 25, 2018, 12:36 am IST
Updated May 25, 2018, 12:36 am IST
Politicians use grey areas to canvass on social media.
In October 2013 the Election Commission had notified that the provisions of the model code of conduct and related instructions of the EC issued from time to time shall also apply to the content being posted on the internet, including social media websites, by candidates and political parties
 In October 2013 the Election Commission had notified that the provisions of the model code of conduct and related instructions of the EC issued from time to time shall also apply to the content being posted on the internet, including social media websites, by candidates and political parties

Hyderabad: There was an extensive use of social and electronic media by political parties in the Gujarat and Karnataka Assembly elections but in the absence of any rules governing such media, the cessation of campaigning 48 hours before the polls, as mandated in the Representation of Peoples Act, is not observed.

The Poll Panel which was constituted by the Election Commission of India in the wake of controversies over PM Narendra Modi’s FICCI meeting, Rahul Gandhi’s TV interviews and the release of the BJP manifesto after campaigning had ended in Gujarat, accepted that Section 126 of the RP Act does not take into account the revolution in communication technologies.

 

Legal experts say that it is very difficult to pin down either the party or its leaders in the absence of specific provisions to deal with social media.

Avinash Desai, counsel for the Election Commission, however, says there is a provision under Section 126 of the RP Act to lodge a complaint with the returning officer concerned if a party or its leader campaigns on social media or, for that matter, uses any medium during the prohibited period.

He explained that after receiving the complaint the returning officer must inquire and take action if the complaint is found to have merit.

 

Section 126 of the RP Act stipulates that any person who contravenes the provisions shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine, or with both.

N. Sreedhar Reddy, advocate of the High Court, says there is a distinction between a physical campaign and campaign through social media. The physical campaign requires the presence of the candidate or the leader of the party, but in case of social media, recorded versions, images and texts can be forwarded or circulated through WhatsApp or Facebook and other such digital media available on internet or mobile networks. This allows political parties and candidates to claim that the images or footage circulating on social platform was uploaded prior to the prohibited period or has been circulated by the opposition to embarrass them.

 

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Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad




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