100 candidates under EC scanner for paid news

Around 100 candidates,who contested the state Assembly elections,have been issued notices by the district-level media monitoring committees of the Chief Electoral Officer,Punjab over paid news.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: February 3, 2012 3:40 am

Around 100 candidates,who contested the state Assembly elections,have been issued notices by the district-level media monitoring committees of the Chief Electoral Officer,Punjab over paid news. Sources said among the 100 were candidates of all political parties and Independents. After seeking replies from the candidates,the committees will now take a final decision over whether certain news items in papers were paid for or not.

If the candidates are found guilty of having paid for news items,the amount determined by the expenditure observer,will then be added to the candidate’s total expenditure. All the cases will then be referred to the state level media monitoring committee which will again study them and take a decision. If need be,then the committee can send notices in this regard to the concerned newspapers.

If the state level committee finds substance in some cases then those cases will be sent to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for a final decision. If then the ECI finds in some case that the news which appeared was paid for,then it can disqualify the candidature of the candidate,if one is elected. Before taking the final decision,however,the commission will send the matter to the Press Council of India for a review.

An officer said: “This process is very lengthy and takes a lot of time and till date only one candidate in some other state was disqualified by the ECI on the same grounds but it took the commission three and half years to do so.’’

“Not only this,notices have been issued by the state level media monitoring committee to five news channels as complaints came in the morning about Star News,Aaj Tak,Zee,NDTV,Times Now and PTC . Besides PTC which was showing interviews of most SAD-BJP candidates,the monitoring committee saw that decided that the allegation was right and send their finding to ECI. As regards to other channels they went off the air in the state as it was alleged that they were showing exit polls-cum-Opinion based programs so we asked the ECI to watch the channels in Delhi. Also notices to three vernacular newspapers for publishing an advertisement that people should vote on religion basis,” the officer added.

Meanwhile,the CEO on Thursday clarified that as per the latest instructions of the Election Commission of India,the static surveillance teams and flying squads of the Departments of Police,Income Tax and State Excise,especially deployed to monitor expenditure and flow of liquor during the recent Assembly elections have been directed to be disbanded. Kusumjit Sidhu,CEO has asked the District Administration especially the SSPs to ensure that no person should be harassed or exploited in this regard.

78 ‘tendered votes’ cast

Jalandhar: In the January 30 Punjab polls,78 “tendered votes” were reported from across the state. While maximum tendered voters of 21 were reported from Dhuri in Sangrur district,20 tendered voters were reported in Moga district’s Dharamkot. Moreover,while five each tenderd voters were reported from Barnala and Dakha constituencies of Barnala and Ludhiana districts respectively,three such voters reported from Sunam. The rest were from Jalandhar,Kapurthala,Amritsar Pathankot,Bathinda,Mansa,Patiala,Fazilka and SAS Nagar districts. Tendered voting is a method by which one can vote on behalf of another,provided he has been authorised to do so.

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