Social media ads: Election Commission of India gets Bombay high court rap over regulations

Published on Mar 27, 2019 07:39 AM IST

The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to issue directions for regulating political advertisements on social networking sites, in view of next month’s Lok Sabha elections.

The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to issue directions for regulating political advertisements on social networking sites, in view of next month’s Lok Sabha elections.(HT File Photo)
The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to issue directions for regulating political advertisements on social networking sites, in view of next month’s Lok Sabha elections.(HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to issue directions for regulating political advertisements on social networking sites, in view of next month’s Lok Sabha elections.

“Why this much hesitation and reluctance on part of the ECI,” the division bench of chief justice Naresh Patil and justice Nitin Jamdar asked the ECI counsel, advocate Pradeep Rajagopal. “So many adjournments on such an important issue,” the bench said, adding, “The ECI should not have taken such a long time on such a vital issue.” The judges noted that although the ECI had assured the court it would frame a code of ethics for regulating advertisements on social media , especially for the 48-hour blackout period before voting, it merely accepted the voluntary code put forth by the Internet and Mobile Association (IAMA) and sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, in a joint meeting with ECI on March 19.

The judges also noted that the ECI had not even issued a formal order of its own after accepting the voluntary code of ethics submitted in the meeting.

Rajagopal informed the bench about the developments at the meeting. “ECI was very clear...you [social networking sites] come up with your own code of ethics and accordingly they submitted a voluntary code,” he said. “It’s kind of self-sensorship. “So, you will not do anything at your level,” the bench commented. “In view of this voluntary code of ethics, we don’t have to do anything,” Rajagopal replied. He said the voluntary code takes care of all the apprehensions of the petitioner.

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