New Delhi: Ahead of assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, the Election Commission has reminded the media of Press Council of India guidelines to avoid reports which promote feelings of enmity.
The EC's move comes against the backdrop of cases of hate speeches made during campaign for assembly bypolls in Uttar Pradesh recently.
The poll body has also reminded the media of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act which prohibit "displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency."
The poll watchdog said election campaign along communal or caste lines is banned under the election rules. "Hence, the press should eschew reports, which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language," an EC statement said referring to one of the PCI guidelines.
The poll watchdog also reminded that there is a prohibition on conduct of exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period -- from the hour fixed for commencement of polls and half hour after the time fixed for close of poll.
"During elections, there are sometimes allegations of violation of the provisions of...Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 by TV channels in the telecast of their panel discussions/debates and other news and current affairs programmes. The Commission has clarified in the past that the...Section...Prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency," it said.
The statement said 'election matter' has been defined as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election. Violation of the provision is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both.