The Election Commission of India submitted before the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would not be able to restrain individuals from posting political content on social media platforms 48 hours before polls.
The submission was made before the division bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and N M Jamdar, which is hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google take EC’s approval before publishing or sponsoring any political advertisement on their platforms.
The PIL was filed by petitioner Sagar Suryawanshi through advocates Abhinav Chandrachud along with Sagar Kursija. It states that despite the provisions under Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, prohibiting campaigning 48 hours before polling, social media platforms are used by political parties to campaign even during the ban. The High Court asked whether any policy is in place to address these issues. The EC counsel told the High Court that some deliberations were taking place. The counsel for the Union ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the court that a report was submitted to EC this week on provisions of the Act. The court has directed the EC counsel to take instructions regarding the report. The PIL had claimed that undue advantage could be taken of sponsored advertisements on these platforms, even by individuals outside the country to cause tensions during elections. The court will hear the case on Monday.
On Thursday, a 14-member committee report was submitted to the EC on regulating violations of the Act, impact of new media platforms and social media during the prohibitory period of 48 hours before polling.