The Supreme Court on Wednesday set up a committee for framing guidelines to prevent misuse of public funds by the government and its authorities in giving advertisements to newspapers and television to get political mileage.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that substantive guidelines are needed to regulate such advertisements at the cost of the public exchequer and constituted a four-member committee. The apex court asked the committee to submit its report within three weeks. The court passed the order on a PIL filed by NGOs Common Cause and Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) pleading it to frame guidelines.
The petition has sought issuance of guidelines for curbing ruling parties from taking political mileage by projecting their leaders in official advertisements. The counsel, appearing for Common Cause, had earlier said that the glorification of politicians linked to the ruling establishment, in order to attain political mileage at the cost of the public exchequer, was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
EC empowers citizens to report malpractices
In a major technology leap undertaken by the Election Commission (EC) to check electoral malpractices, the common man can now upload a video or audio clip of an inflammatory speech, illegal cash or liquor distribution to the poll bodys website, which will automatically authenticate the credentials of the media post.
The EC, for the first time, has developed and deployed a unique Android-based software which is able to automatically generate the geographical location, coordinates, date and time of a clip uploaded onto it, which is an attempt by the poll body to weed out instances of fake videos and footage being circulated to confuse the voters and also to mislead election officials.
Sources said that the EC had wanted to get such a software for a long time as a number of instances of inflammatory speeches and videos emerge during the polls and it is essential to differentiate between the authentic and the fake ones. Also, once such a technical authentication is available for a video or an audio, the EC can take an informed action.
854 paid news cases registered so far; AP leads
A total of 854 paid news cases has been detected by the Election Commission in the over 45-day period after the general elections in the country were announced on March 5.
Out of the registered cases across various states, 326 instances have been found to be factual and notices have been served to candidates, officials said.
The maximum of such cases of unethical reportage of news items has been reported in Andhra Pradesh with 208 cases being registered out of which notices have been issued in 42 cases.
Figures for other states show that in Rajasthan, there were 89 cases out of which 37 notices have been issued. In Uttar Pradesh, there were 98 cases and 64 notices were issued, while in Punjab 73 cases were detected and 41 notices issued.
The officials said 61 cases were detected in Gujarat and 45 notices issued, while 118 cases were found in Maharashtra and 23 notices issued. In Karnataka, 34 cases were detected with 15 notices being issued and in Tamil Nadu, 41 cases were found with 8 notices being issued.
Election body seizes R240 cr in cash, liquor
Stepping up its efforts to prevent the use of black money and other means to influence voters during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission has so far seized R240 crore in cash, as well as large quantities of liquor and drugs.
According to the latest data released on Wednesday by the poll panel, officials at the ground have seized R240 crore in cash, including R102 crore in Andhra Pradesh, R39 crore in Tamil Nadu and R20.53 crore in Karnataka.
The EC said sleuths of various agencies have also recovered illicit liquor to the tune of 1.32 crore litres, besides 104 kg of heroin.
Till April 17, when the fifth phase of polling ended, Election Commission had seized more than R216 crore in cash and above one crore litres of liquor across the country. Till then, the maximum cash was seized from Andhra Pradesh (R92 crore), followed by Maharashtra (R24 crore).