ECI directs disclosure of publishers and printers for traceability & accountability

KOHIMA, APRIL 12 (MExN): The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday directed all the States/UTs mandating the clear identification of printer and publisher on printed election-related material including hoardings, ensuring accountability and transparency in campaign communications.

The decision was taken by the Commission consisting of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, and Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu after representations were received in the Commission stating that in hoarding spaces controlled by Municipal authorities, hoardings without the identity of the printer or publisher have been noticed, a DIPR report stated.

Section 127A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, unequivocally prohibits the printing or publishing of election pamphlets, posters, placards, or banners without prominently displaying the name and address of the printer and publisher. This requirement of disclosing the identity of publishers serves as a cornerstone for regulating campaign financing and fixing of responsibility in case content is found unbecoming of the framework of Model Code of Conduct or the statutory provisions.

CEC Rajiv Kumar had earlier highlighted that the issue of misinformation was one of the challenges along with money and muscle power, for a level playing field. With this directive, the Commission now has put the accountability on printers, publishers, licensees/contractors of urban local bodies renting out outdoor advertising space for the political advertisements published on outdoor media. This is in continuation of the ECI recent advisory of April 2, 2024 to editors of all newspapers to be cautious while publishing political advertisements in newspapers, the DIPR report said.

It also brought attention of all stakeholders to the instructions issued by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on April 3, 2024 to all its licensees and contractors on political advertisements on outdoor media of MCD. The instructions, while, allowing political ads for promotion of a party/candidate, prohibits any political advertisement given against a party or candidate. Any political ad released at the cost of exchequer regarding advertisement of a party/government in power is also prohibited. All political advertisements will be displayed only after certification/approval of the designated authority responsible for approving advertisement.