The
schedule for calling general election to the Legislative Assemblies of Goa,
Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand has been announced on 4th
January, 2017. Poll is scheduled to be held in seven phases. Section 126 of
Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits displaying any election
matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the
period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a
constituency. The relevant portions of the said Section 126 are re- produced
below: –

(126.
Prohibition of public meeting during period of forty-eight hours ending with
hour fixed for conclusion of poll-

(1)  No
person shall –

(a)
………………….                                          

(b)  Display to the public any election
matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus;

(c)
…………………….

In
any polling area during the period of forty-eight hours ending with the hour
fixed for the conclusion of the poll for any election in the polling area.

(2)   Any person who contravenes the
provisions of sub-section (1) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term
which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

(3)   In this Section, the expression
“election matter” means any matter intended or calculated to influence or
affect the result of an election.)

2.
        During elections, there are sometimes allegations of violation of the
provisions of the above mentioned Section 126 of Representation of the People
Act, 1951 by TV channels in the telecast of their panel discussions/debates and
other news and current affairs programmes. As above mentioned, the said Section
126 prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of
television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours ending with the
hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency. “Election matter” has been
defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or
affect the result of an election. Violation of the aforesaid provisions of
Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with
fine or both.

3.
        The Commission once again reiterates that the TV/Radio channels and
cable networks should ensure that the contents of the programme
telecast/broadcast/displayed by them during the period of 48 hours referred to
in Section 126 do not contain any material, including views/appeals by
panelists/participants that may be construed as promoting/prejudicing the
prospect of any particular party or candidate(s) or influencing/affecting the
result of the election. This shall, among other things, include display of
result of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals and
sound-bytes.

4.
        In this connection, attention is also invited to Section 126A of the
R.P. Act 1951, which prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their
results during the period reckoned from the commencement of polls in the first
phase and till half an hour after the close of poll for the last phase in all
the States.

5.
        During the period not covered by Section 126 or Section 126A, concerned
TV/Radio/Cable/FM channels are free to approach the state/district/local
authorities for necessary permission for conducting any outdoor broadcast
related events which must also conform to the provisions of the model code of
conduct and the programme code laid down by the Ministry of Information and
Broadcasting under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act with regard to decency,
maintenance of communal harmony, etc. They are also required to stay within the
provisions of Commission’s guidelines dated 27th August, 2012 and subsequent
instructions regarding paid news and related matters. Concerned Chief Electoral
Officer/District Election Officer will take into account all relevant aspects
including the law and order situation while extending such permission. As regards
political Advertisements, the same needs pre-telecast/broadcast certification
by the Committees set up at the State/District level as per the Commission’s
order No. 509/75//2004/JS-I dt 15.04.2004.

6.
        Attention of all Print Media is also drawn to the following guidelines
issued by Press Council of India to be followed for observance during the
election:

(i)        It will be the duty of the
Press to give objective reports about elections and the candidates. The
newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns,
exaggerated reports about any candidate/party or incident during the elections.
In practice, two or three closely contesting candidates attract all the media
attention. While reporting on the actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave
out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her
opponent.

(ii)       Election campaign along
communal or caste lines is banned under the election rules. Hence, the Press
should eschew reports, which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred
between people on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language.

(iii)      The Press should refrain from
publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and
conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of any
candidate or his candidature, to prejudice the prospects of that candidate in
the elections. The Press shall not publish unverified allegations against any
candidate/party.

(iv)      The Press shall not accept any
kind of inducement, financial or otherwise, to project a candidate/party. It
shall not accept hospitality or other facilities offered to it by or on behalf
of any candidate/party.

(v)       The Press is not expected to
indulge in canvassing of a particular candidate/party. If it does, it shall
allow the right of reply to the other candidate/party.

(vi)      The Press shall not
accept/publish any advertisement at the cost of public exchequer regarding
achievements of a party/government in power.

(vii)     The Press shall observe all
the directions/orders/instructions of the election commission/Returning
Officers or Chief Electoral Officer issued from time to time.

7.         Attention
of the electronic media is also invited to the “Guidelines for Election
Broadcasts” issued by NBSA dt 3rd March, 2014.

       The above
guidelines should be duly observed for compliance by all concerned.

****

 

Election
Commission of India

New
Delhi 5th January ,2017

 

RM/