The Press Council of India (PCI) has issued a notice for print media actors ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa . It enlists several do’s and don’ts for players, including not violating the Representation of the People Act and not engaging in “soliciting a particular party/candidate”, without giving the right of reply. to the opposing party.
The notice stated: “Print media are advised to take note of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 (RPA) which prohibits the publication of any election material by means of, among other things, newspapers or any device, during the 48-hour period before the time fixed for the closing of the poll in a constituency.
An “election matter” is defined in Section 126 of the RPA as any event or matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the results of an election. Failure to do so may result in imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both.
Meanwhile, through the notice, PCI said that “elections in India are the backbone of our democracy and the responsibility of the media to bring all related information to the public is heavy.” It then asks the media to “avoid” any reporting that promotes “feelings of enmity or hatred between people on grounds of caste, religion, race, community or language”.
The Council said no member of the press should accept any sort of “inducement, financial or otherwise, to project any candidate/party”.
The notice further stated that the press should not accept or publish any publicity at “the expense of the public treasury relating to the achievements of a ruling party/government”.
“It will be the duty of the press to give objective information on the candidates running.”
He added that “the press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements regarding the personal character and conduct of any candidate.” And added: “The press will not publish unverified allegations against a candidate/party.”
PCI also states that in the case of staggered polls, no newspaper should publish poll exit surveys until the last voting date has passed.