Having forced to use its extraordinary powers under the Constitution to curb political advertisements in newspapers before recent assembly elections, the Election Commission has urged for an amendment to Representation of the People Act for permanent legal authority in this regard.
Poll panel had imposed restriction on political advertisements in print, a day before Bihar elections last year after it considered BJP’s “cow ads” as communal and divisive.
The advertisement, which appeared in some newspapers on November 4, 2015, had alleged that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s allies had “repeatedly insulted every Indian’s venerable cow” and still he did not say anything.
According to 'The Indian Express' report, commission, in a meeting held with Law Secretary G Narayana Raju in, had requested that print media should also be included in Section 126 of the RP Act.
Rule currently prohibits publication of adverisements by political parties in electronic media — TV, radio and, more recently, social media — 48 hours before voting ends.
This suggestion was first suggested by the EC in April 2012, and it has been endorsed by the Law Commission, but Centre hasn’t acted on it.
Election Commissioners Nasim Zaidi, A K Joti and O P Rawat made a fresh push for it on May 27.
EC had strongly objected to the “quota conspiracy” advertisements put out by the BJP during the Bihar election season last year.
These adverisements accused RJD and JD(U) of “conspiring” to take away a part of the quota for Mahadalits, dalits, EBCs and OBCs to give it to “another community”.
Disregarding the Commission’s warning, the party then came out with another advertisement in four local newspapers showing a woman hugging a cow, along with the allegations against the Nitish-Lalu led grand alliance.
The commission then asked all political parties, candidates, organisations and even individuals not to publish political ads in newspapers unless approved by the state election machinery.
It also asked newspapers not to carry uncertified advertisements.