Representation of the People Act Current Affairs - 2019
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Social media platforms and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) presented a ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019 to the Election Commission of India.
Voluntary Code of Ethics
- The code aims to identify measures that the platforms can take to increase confidence in the electoral process to safeguard against misuse that vitiates the free and fair character.
- The platforms will deploy appropriate policies and processes to facilitate access to information on electoral matters where appropriate and keeping in mind the principle of freedom of expression.
- The platforms have voluntarily undertaken to establish a high-priority communication channel with the nodal officers designated by the ECI.
- The Election commission together with platforms has developed a notification mechanism by which the electoral body can notify them of potential violations under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act and on other matters.
- As per the code, the platforms will acknowledge these notifications within three hours of receipt and will act upon expeditiously based on the nature of the reported violation.
- The platforms will deploy a high-priority dedicated reporting mechanism for the EC and appoint dedicated persons for the purpose.
- Platforms will ensure that political advertisements by parties or their candidates are pre-certified.
Participants including BIGO, ByteDance, Facebook, Google, Sharechat and Twitter have agreed to take action on the content reported by the nodal officer, expeditiously, in accordance with the law.
The Committee headed Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha has submitted the report on revisiting the section 126 of the Representation of the People Act. The committee had nine officers from the Election Commission and one nominated member each from I&B Ministry, Law Ministry, IT Ministry, National Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India.
Recommendations of the Committee
The committee has made the following recommendations:
- Amendment to the Model Code of Conduct to ensure that political parties release their manifesto at least 72 hours before voting ends in the first phase of polls.
- The provision of election silence, which prohibits any form of poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting to be extended to cover print and social media, internet, cable channels and online version of print media.
- Social media platforms should work with the EC to evolve a mechanism by which the latter can flag content violating electoral law and social media sites can take it down as soon as possible.
- EC should issue directions to private cable TV channels to follow NBSA guidelines for election broadcasts during the poll period.
The recommendations when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.
Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act
Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act Prohibits public meetings during period of forty-eight hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of the poll.
Tags: cable channels • Deputy Election Commissioner • election silence • Internet • Model Code of Conduct • NBSA • Representation of the People Act • Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act • Social Media • Umesh Sinha