The Election Commission has issued directions for banning bulk text (SMS) messaging, either by candidates standing for an election or by political parties to voters, in the 48-hour period before start of voting in state assembly elections scheduled for January 30.
The commission is concerned about certain objectionable messages that are generally transmitted through short message services (SMS) by some persons having vested interest in the elections, violating the provisions of the election law, model code of conduct.
According to the guidelines set by the Election Commission, police authorities would have to advertise special mobile numbers on which the receiver of such objectionable SMS can forward the said SMS (along with the number of the sender of objectionable SMS), and police authorities will have to initiate appropriate inquiry and trace back the original sender of such SMS. Action will be taken against the sender of such messages under the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
But, the state police seems to be clueless about such guidelines of Election Commission related to bulk SMSes and till date the special mobile numbers on which the aggrieved can send the ‘objectionable SMSes’ have not been publicised.
When Hindustan Times queried state police chief, JS Pandey, on the issue, he accepted that he was not aware of any such provision related to banning to bulk SMSes during the election and said he would enquire about it from the officials concerned.
It is to be noted that if any candidate indulges in campaigning through bulk SMSes as an alternative canvassing and if it is brought to the notice of the district election officer (DEO), he will find out the cost involved in the sending those SMSes and would apportion it to the candidate or candidates concerned as the case may be.