The district returning officer has charged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Karnal and owner of Hindi daily Punjab Kesri, Delhi, Ashwini Kumar Chopra, with indulging in paid news.
In separate notices (Hindustan Times has copies) served on Chopra and editor of Punjab Kesri, Delhi, Vijay Kumar, the RO-cum-Karnal deputy commissioner Balraj Singh has charged the duo with bribing the voters with free supply of the daily laced with biased political reportage of Karnal.
Singh said that as per the media certification and monitoring committee, the newspaper was biased and promoting the BJP candidate Chopra only by adopting unethical practices.
The RO has enclosed copies of the daily published on March 26 and 27 to support its charge and referred to the Press Council of India’s reiteration that news should be objective and neutral.
“The newspaper is promoting of only your (Ashwini Chopra) candidature since you were nominated as the BJP candidate. It (editorial content) is misleading the general public, affecting and influencing the behavior of the voters and yield benefit to a particular (read Chopra) candidate,” reads the notice served on the BJP nominee.
The notice also alleged that the promoters of the Hindi daily were delivering the newspapers free of cost to the non-subscribers.
Election officer said that the cost of alleged “paid news” be included in the election expenditure. The duo had been given 48 hours to respond, else legal action would be initiated against them, said the RO Balraj Singh.