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Parliament barred election ads on TV not EC: CEC

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 29, 2004 17:36 IST

The Election Commission on Sunday said it was only implementing a 1995 law enacted by Parliament while barring political parties from issuing advertisements in the electronic media and clarified it had not taken the decision on its own.

"There have been gross misstatements that the Commission acted irresponsibly" with regard to the issue of advertisements and some ministers also made statements, a visibly upset Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy said.

He was apparently referring to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravishankar Prasad who had on Friday said that the EC had taken a decision not to permit political ads on television channels.

Responding to a communication from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry seeking certain 'Do's and Don'ts' from the poll panel on the issue, the Commission had said that Rule 7(3) of the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 prescribed under Section 6 (advertisement code) of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 prohibits advertisements on cable television networks of a political nature.

This was made clear to Information and Broadcasting Secretary Pawan Chopra and other senior officials when they met the full Commission on Friday.

"How are certain ministers making such statements? Even journalists did not verify facts," the CEC said.

With the announcement of the poll schedule, Krishnamurthy said that the model code of conduct would come into force with immediate effect.

"This will be applicable to all parties and to the Union and state and Union Territory governments and it would remain in force till the conclusion of the elections," he said.

Over 2000 election observers would be appointed by the Election Commission to oversee free and fair conduct of the elections. They would keep an eye on political parties and ensure that the model code of conduct is implemented in letter and spirit.

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He advised political parties to put up the best possible candidates and reminded them that under a Supreme Court directive it is mandatory for all candidates to file an affidavit giving details of their properties and their background, including the number of cases pending against them in various courts in the country.

He appealed to the voters who have just joined the voting list to turn up in large numbers and vote in the interest of democracy.

He rejected the Western media's comment that Indian democracy was a flawed one. "Our elections are better managed then some of those the developed nations," he quipped.

One of the unique features of the polls would be that Electronic Voting Machines would be used throughout the country. "We would be using 10.75 lakh voting machines. Our machines are tested and have yielded positive results in the past," he added.

With inputs from PTI

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