EC mandates publisher identification on political hoardings amid complaints | India News

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Wednesday told all the states and Union territories to ensure that every print campaign for polls — including hoardings, posters and banners — clearly identifies the name and address of the printer and publisher on its face, in the interest of accountability and transparency.
In a letter sent to the chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of all states/UTs, the commission said it had received various representations stating that anonymous hoardings, bearing no detail of the printer or publisher, had been noticed in spaces controlled or regulated by local self governments or municipal authorities.Most of these hoardings were peddling untruthful content or unverified/unsubstantiated allegations about political rivals.
EC underlined that the provisions of Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the model code of conduct dealing with campaigning in the print mode, warrant the disclosure of identity of the publisher so that the responsibility of the content can be fixed. Stating that identification of the publisher is linked to the issue of campaign financing and fixing of responsibility in case the content is found unbecoming of the framework of model code of conduct or the statutory scheme, the poll panel said it is also a vital information for the elector.
The chief secretaries were accordingly advised to bring its instructions on mandatory disclosure of printer and publisher in printed poll campaigns, “to the notice of all municipal authorities or such authorities that are responsible for hoardings/posters/banners/etc, for strict compliance”
At the press conference on March 16 to announce general elections, chief election commissioner Rajeev Kumar had listed misinformation as one of the key challenges, along with money and muscle power, to a level playing field. He had warned people against blindly forwarding/sharing fake news or social media posts. With the latest directive, the Commission has put the accountability on printers, publishers, licensees/contractors of urban local bodies renting out outdoor advertising space, for misleading political advertisements published on outdoor media.
Section 127A of the RP Act, 1951 prohibits printing or publishing of election pamphlet/poster without bearing the name and address of the printer and publisher. Section 127A(3)(b) gives wide amplitude to the meaning of the phrase ‘election pamphlet or poster’, to include ‘placard or poster’. “Thus any non-compliances or obfuscations of this requirement are always to be viewed seriously,” EC said on Wednesday.


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