Paid news deceiving people, says CEC
Chandigarh: The implications of paid news are "serious" which interferes in free and fair polls and the Election Commission would issue new guidelines to check "money power", Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Monday said.
"The implications of this (paid news) are serious. It is deceiving people and there is a deceit element in this, which interferes in free and fair elections...we are examining legal implications," Quraishi told reporters here.
His comments came in the wake of the recently held Bihar elections. He said though these polls were conducted in such a peaceful manner like never before in the country, still the story of Bihar polls was not yet over.
He said the Election Commission had given 86 notices to candidates in the Bihar polls with regard to paid news, adding lessons learnt in these elections would be practiced in future elections.
Quraishi said that EC had set up an Expenditure Monitoring Division in the Commission and the campaign to check use of money power in elections would continue.
"New guidelines would be issued under the campaign to check money power," he said.
"In the Bihar polls, we had at our disposal various agencies, including Income Tax machinery, had video surveillance including at airports and railway stations, conducted surprise raids, candidates were to give details of their expenditure and maintain accounts. We confronted the contesting candidates with proof and questioned them how same content had appeared as news item in various newspapers. Many owed up," he said.
Quraishi said EC's campaign against money power and to curb menace of paid news would be more strong in the states which go to polls in the near future including Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
He was speaking at the inauguration of a three-day diamond jubilee photo exhibition on "India and Elections" at Government Museum Art Gallery here.
He said that for the first time, National Voters Day would be celebrated on January 25 next year.
All those eligible electors who would be of 18 years of age on January 1, 2011, would be issued voter cards, he said and appealed to the youth to understand their power as a voter and exercise their right.
The CEC said every week at least two delegations from abroad visit the Commission to study the election system of India.
"There is great faith and credibility of our election system," he said.
There were 71 crore eligible voters in the last Lok Sabha polls around the country, which was more than the voters of Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada put together and also more than the 54 African countries put together, Quraishi said.