Ahead of the February 27 Assembly elections in Meghalaya, the Election Commission has reminded all media that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
The Election Commission said that during elections, there are sometimes allegations of violation of the provisions of the above Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 by TV channels in the telecast of their panel discussions or debates and other news and current affairs programmes.
The Commission said that the said Section 126 prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
According to the Election Commission, “election matter” has been defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election. It also said that violation of the provisions of Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment up to a period of two years, or with fine or both.
The Commission reiterated that the TV, radio channels and cable networks, internet website and social media platforms should ensure that the contents of the programmes telecast, broadcast displayed by them during the period of 48 hours referred to in Section 126 should not contain any material, including views or appeals by panelists or participants that may be construed as promoting or prejudicing the prospect of any particular party or candidate or influencing, affecting the result of the election.
“This shall, among other things include display of any opinion poll and of standard debates, analysis, visuals and sound-bytes,” the Commission said.
It also said that Section 126A of the Representation of People Act 1951 prohibits conduct of exit poll and dissemination of its results during the period fixed for commencement of poll in first phase and half an hour after close of poll in last phase in the State.
The Commissioner also stated that during the period not covered by Section 126, all concerned TV, radio, cable, FM channels, internet websites and social media platforms are free to approach the authorities for necessary permission for conducting any broadcast or telecast related events (other than exit polls) which must also conform to the provisions of the model code of conduct, the programme code laid down by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act with regard to decency, maintenance of communal harmony, etc.
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