EC to upload paid news violations on website

The Election Commission has decided to make public "paid news" violations by candidates during elections following concern over rising number of such cases, with the latest reports revealing 276 "accepted cases" in Gujarat and 104 in Himachal Pradesh in the recent Assembly polls.

Sources said a meeting of the poll body chaired by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath on Tuesday took the in-principle decision that "accepted cases" of paid news violations, where candidates have confessed to paying newspapers and electronic media for publicity, should henceforth be publicised by uploading them on the EC website.

Officials pointed out that an increasing number of paid news violations were being detected, specially after an institutionalised mechanism was put in place, right down to the district level, to identify violations. The EC wrote to the government last year seeking amendments in the Representation of People Act, 1951 to make paid news violations an electoral offence punishable with a minimum of two years in jail.

The EC's decision comes in the wake of internal deliberations on a Press Council of India report formally communicating to the poll body the action taken against newspapers with regard to paid news violations in the Bihar Assembly elections in 2010. The EC will next look at Assembly polls in Assam, West Bengal, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu in 2011, where 136 "accepted cases" were detected, as well as UP, Punjab and Uttarakhand where 766 complaints were received and 581 notices issued.

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