The EC, in a notice sent to Rahul Gandhi, said that the interview fell within the definition of “election matter” under Section 126(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the display of which “within 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll, amounts to violation of the prohibition contained in Section 126(1)(b) of R P Act”. It further said that the Congress chief, by giving such interview and its display on TV channels on Wednesday, had “prima facie violated…provisions of para 1(4) of the model code of conduct, Section 126(1)(b) of the R P Act and Election Commission’s lawful instructions in this regard”.
While seeking an explanation from Rahul Gandhi for violation of the model code latest by December 18, the EC separately issued a direction to the Gujarat chief electoral officer asking him to initiate action against all those who had violated the aforesaid provisions.
“The Commission hereby directs that necessary action for violation of the aforesaid Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, may be initiated by filing of FIR against those who have violated the above-mentioned provisions immediately in areas which are going to the poll tomorrow, i.e, 14th December, 2017,” EC said in a communication to the Gujarat CEO.
An EC official confirmed to TOI that the term “those” in the above paragraph was in reference to both the TV channels that aired Rahul Gandhi’s interview in the poll-bound districts as well as Rahul Gandhi himself.
This is made clear by the notice served on Rahul Gandhi, where EC says that “by giving such interview and its display on TV channels on 13.12.2017, you have, prima facie, violated…para 1(4) of the model code of conduct, Section 126(1)(b) of the R P Act, 1951, and Election Commission’s lawful instructions in this regard.”
As per Para 1(4) of model code, all parties and candidates must avoid scrupulously all activities which are ‘offences’ under the election law. Further, Section 126(1)(b) of R P Act prohibits display to the public of any ‘election matter’ on TV, during period of 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll.
As per EC instructions brought to the notice of all registered national parties, “no matter related to election can be shown or displayed in theatres, TV channels or electronic media during the said period of 48 hours”.
The Commission on Wednesday said it had received reports and complaints that some TV channels had displayed interview given by the Congress president where he is talking about Gujarat elections. Terming telecast of interview as “display of election matter” in violation of the 48-hour ban in force for Phase-2 polling, the Election Commission on Wednesday directed the state chief electoral officer to initiate filing of an FIR against the said channels as well as Rahul Gandhi under Section 126(1)(b) of Representation of the People Act (R P Act), 1951.
The Commission also asked the TV channels “which are violating the provision of Section 126(1)(b) by displaying said election matter in Phase 2 districts in Gujarat to forthwith stop the display of such matter”.
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