EC proposes making paid news an electoral offence

SansadTV Bureau

cec_sampathThe Election Commission has proposed making paid news an electoral offence to provide a strong deterrent in a bid to stamp out the menace.

Seeking to provide a level-playing field for parties in elections, it also wants a ceiling on the campaign expenditure of political parties that is used as a ruse to pump in unlimited resources.

Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath says that if paid news is made an electoral offence, then it will serve as a “deterrent” on those violating the law.

“Paid news is really a matter of serious concern for the Commission it is not an electoral offence. We have proposed to the Law Ministry that paid news should be made an electoral offence,” Sampath said.

He said once paid news is made an electoral offence, then it can be a ground to take action against the guilty candidate under election petition.

The EC’s proposal in this regard to the government is pending for two years. “Action will be more deterrent,  Action now is without backup of law,” he explained.

He said political parties in various states the EC has visited have expressed concern over the issue of paid news.

The CEC was of the view that organisations such as the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association should also use their powers to curb the practice of paid news.

Responding to questions on whether the poll watchdog plans to put a limit on spending by political parties in campaigning, the CEC said that there should be a ceiling.