Election Commission panel submits report on digital media and campaigning during last 48 hours before polls

EC said the task of maintaining "campaign silence" during last 48 hours before the conclusion of polling is becoming "increasingly onerous" in the light of the increasing influence of digital media.

Published: 11th January 2019 12:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2019 12:35 AM   |  A+A-

Election Commission

Election Commission of India (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: To contain the "evil impact" of digital media in influencing voters during the last 48 hours leading to elections, a committee Thursday submitted a report to the Election Commission.

Sources in the poll panel said one of the recommendations made by the panel is to formalise the line of communication between the EC and social media companies so that content prima facie seen as violative can be flagged and brought down.

In a statement, the Commission said the task of maintaining "campaign silence" during last 48 hours before the conclusion of polling is becoming "increasingly onerous" in the light of the increasing influence of digital media.

"Apart from the regulation by law and EC instructions, the resolve, proactive support and sustained effort by all stakeholders which include political parties, media, civil society organizations, academia and educational institutions, the youth and citizens at large, will remain necessary to contain the evil impact," it said.

No campaigning is allowed in the last 48 hours so that voters can think independently.

This period is also called 'silence period'.

The panel was mandated to review and suggest modifications and changes in the provisions of the Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act dealing with campaigning in the last 48 hours, provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and EC instructions issued in this regard.

The Commission will consider the report in its meeting on Tuesday next.

The panel also examined the provisions in the law under the prevailing context of communication technologies.

The panel was set up a couple of years ago in the wake of controversies over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's FICCI meeting, Rahul Gandhi's TV interviews and the release of BJP manifesto -- all after campaigning had ended in Gujarat during assembly elections.

The poll panel had accepted that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act does not take into account the revolution in communication technologies.

"It appears imperative to revisit the provisions relating to the last 48 hours before completion of poll to appropriately address challenges unleashed by fast changing technologies in the context of multi-phase polls," the EC had said.

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