Mandi deputy commissioner Devesh Kumar while exercising powers assigned to him by the election commission of India (ECI) as returning officer for the Mandi parliamentary constituency byelection has constituted committees to monitor paid news and expenditure done by the candidates during the election.
Kumar said the district expenditure monitoring committee would have the additional district magistrate as its chairman, besides all assistant returning officers of Mandi district as members, whereas expenditure observer has been appointed as special invitee of the committee.
Kumar added that a media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC) had been constituted under the chairmanship of additional deputy commissioner Gopal Chand to check “Paid News” during elections.
Kumar said the ECI had directed that maximum vigilance might be observed by making use of the existing provisions of law so that the incidence of “Paid news” or surrogate advertisements in print and electronic media in the context of elections was noticed.
He added that the cases of “Paid news” generally manifest in the form of news, articles and reports published about a particular candidate or a party eulogizing them or denigrating the opponents, both intended at unduly influencing the voters.
He said the MCMC would do vigorous scrutiny of all newspapers and visual media presentation in order to locate political advertisement, including surrogate advertisements, in the form of news and serve notices to candidates and political parties where called for, so that expenses incurred on the news or articles are duly reflected in the account of the candidate or party concerned.
He said the expenditure observers appointed by the commission has to observe the election expenses by the candidates under Section 77(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
He said it was mandatory for every candidate to keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure incurred between the date on which he was nominated and the date of declaration of the results of election, both dates are inclusive and expenditure shall not exceed amount as may be prescribed under Section 77(3) of the RP Act, 1951.
He said the expenditure would include expenditure connected with campaigning like on public meetings, public rallies posters, banners, vehicles and advertisements in print or electronic media.
The second category of the expenditure includes the items which are not permitted under the law, including distribution of money, liquor or any other item to the electors with intent to influence them comes under the definition of bribery and is an offence under the IPC and corrupt practice under the RP Act, 1951. The expenditure on such items is illegal, he added.