As many as 523 cases where candidates are alleged to have paid to get news published or broadcast in the run-up to the Punjab elections,held on January 30,have now come to the fore.
And of the 339 cases for which notices were issued by the Election Commission,a staggering 201 cases have seen the candidates acknowledging that they paid for news. They have now agreed to book these payments onto their expenditure accounts. Each candidates account has a cap of Rs 16 lakh.
In 74 other cases,the candidates have denied having paid for news and have declined to book the expenditure onto their accounts. In 38 cases,either the candidate or the media house concerned has challenged the decision of the Election Commissions media certification and monitoring committee.
Significantly,while 30 paid news cases were acknowledged by candidates in Mansa,another 34 were denied. In all these 34 cases,the decision has been challenged. Another 17 cases in SBS Nagar district and 11 cases in Rupnagar,too,were denied by the candidates.
In many of the instances where candidates have denied the charges,the expenditure has been booked in the shadow expenditure registers being maintained by the ECs accounting teams.
These shadow expenditure registers have been maintained for each candidate in the same format in which the expenditure registers are being maintained by the candidates thesmselves. The two registers will be compared later for major discrepancies,if any.
No cases were reported from SAS Nagar,Moga,Fazilka and Bathinda districts. Barnala had a single case,while Pathankot had two,and Tarn Taran and Faridkot had four each.