Jaipur: The Election department of Rajasthan will closely monitor paid News and fake news during this polling season. Suspicious advertisements and news on print-electronic and social media during the campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will be dealt with strictly, which may involve pulling down content and even shutting down the site.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer Jogaram has said that, in order to keep a close eye on print, electronic and social media, a number of committees have been formed in coordination with the information and public relations department to keep a close watch on suspicious advertorials.
Addressing a meeting of members of the media cell constituted for the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, Jogaram said that during the elections, paid news and fake news will be monitored and dealt with strictly.
The officer said that pre-certification is mandatory for the advertisement of any political party or candidate in the electronic media. While pre-certification is not mandatory for advertising in the print media, he said, pre-certification would be mandatory for advertisements to be published in newspapers’ e-paper versions.
The officer said that Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) are being formed in all 33 districts under the chairmanship of the district election officer. The work of the committee has started with the announcement of the election. The committee will closely monitor the news spread through electronic, print and social media by the candidates.
How authority deals with paid, fake news during elections
The Supreme Court of India in SLP (C) No. 6679 of 2004 (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Vs M/s Gemini TV Pvt Ltd and others) had passed the orders on 13 April of that year that all the political advertisements proposed to be issued on TV Channels and Cable Networks by any registered political party, any group or organisation, association or individual candidate shall be pre-certified by the designated certification committee at various levels to be constituted by the Election Commission of India.
For facilitating political parties or candidates, the commission relaxed the order to the effect that, apart from adopting the existing procedure, the political parties or candidates, if they desire so, may also follow the alternative procedure by first submitting the transcript of the proposed advertisement for certification. Once the transcript is vetted or approved by the committee, the party or candidate will submit the final product in the electronic form of another time for final certification.
There is no specific prohibition on ads by individuals other than a political party or candidate. However, such individuals cannot give ads for the benefit of any political party or candidate.
Audio-visual displays of political advertisement/campaign material in public places should require certification under the existing orders of the commission.
Use of bulk SMSs or voice messages in political campaigning should require certification too.
The commission has accepted the definition of “paid news” given by the Press Council of India (PCI), which has defined the term as “any news or analysis appearing in any media (print and electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.
The publishing and abetting the publishing of paid news for furthering the prospect
of the election of a candidate or for prejudicially affecting the prospect of the election of a candidate is an electoral offence under chapter-III of Part-VII of Representation of the People Act, 1951 with the punishment of a minimum of two years imprisonment.
The rules and the law above apply across the country.