In a selective approach to implementation of the model code of conduct, the Election Commission of India (EC) has got cases registered against four private firms and educational institutions for defacing the city with promotional billboards, while “sparing” the political parties on similar count, thus putting a question mark on its functioning.
While Punjab chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu, following an HT report on the failure to implement the poll panel’s instructions here, asked local poll officials to immediately take steps to ensure free and fair elections, the officials preferred not to take any legal action against political parties till 9.30 pm on Sunday.
Earlier in the morning, police commissioner Gaurav Yadav especially deputed ADCP Navjot Mahal to coordinate with poll officials for registration of FIRs. “We will register FIRs after receiving complaints from returning officers or the competent authority. We will not spare anyone violating the poll code or defacing the city,” he added.
Municipal commissioner BS Dhaliwal, who is also the returning officer for Adampur segment, said 200 billboards had been removed from different parts of the city. “We recommended registration of FIRs against four firms. We are also issuing them notices to explain their conduct while fee will be levied after obtaining their version,” he said.
On the failure to act against political parties, he evaded a direct reply and said that the billboards had been removed and none of the parties or candidates would be allowed to erect hoardings in future.
Dhaliwal was at a loss for words when told about the video recordings done on Saturday night by HT of the public properties defaced by political parties by putting up hoardings. “A report has been submitted to district election officer Priyank Bharti for necessary action,” he said.
Bharti too was evasive as he failed to reveal the exact status of the action initiated against the political parties. “The municipal corporation is removing the hoardings. Notices are being issued while legal action will be taken, if required,” he said, without elaborating against whom notices were being issued and the time by which the violators were told to submit reply.
Meanwhile, the city police have registered cases under section 3 of the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Public Properties Act against Northern Property Advisors, MG Steel, a Steel Authority of India dealer, St Plus Convent Senior Secondary School, Lamba Pind and Kangaroo Studies Pvt Ltd.