Taking cognisance of use of bulk SMSs and recorded voice messages by political parties and candidates during the election campaigns, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has now decided to monitor the practice so that objectionable content is not transmitted.
Chief electoral officer Narinder Chauhan on Saturday said that the commission had directed that bulk SMSs and voice messages during election campaign would be in purview of pre-certification of election advertisements as in case of TV channels, cable network, radio, cinema halls, audio visual displays in public places and social media.
He said that the supporters, workers and organisations supporting the political parties and candidates also resort to the method of carrying out election campaign on their behalf. Apart from use of normal SMSs gateway through mobile, internet is also linked with the mobile gateways to send SMSs and recorded messages. "This feature may sometimes be misused for sending malicious and vilifying material in political campaigning thereby violating electoral and criminal laws besides model code of conduct relating to elections," Chauhan said.
"The commission has already issued directions regarding monitoring of such bulk SMSs and inclusion of expenditure on these SMSs into election expenditure accounts of the candidates," he said, adding that the commission had put in place mechanism at district and state level for certifying political advertisements on TV channels, cable network and radio.
He said legal provisions as applicable on other modes of electronic media would also be applicable on bulk SMSs and voice messages, for which procedure prescribed in the orders of the commission on April 15, 2014, would be followed on election media.