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Legal lacuna in dealing with menace of paid news: V S Sampath

He added that there was a need to make paid news an offence under the electoral law

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

V S Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner

There is a legal lacuna in dealing with the growing menace of 'paid news' in the Indian elections and there is a need to make it an offence under the electoral law, says Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath.

He is relieved at the fact the Election Commission has been able to "successfully complete" the 16th Lok Sabha elections in which tough measures like banning leaders from giving hate speeches were taken for the first time to ensure as clean a poll as possible.

Sampath also expressed satisfaction that voting has been an unprecedented high in the just-concluded poll because of new steps like last-minute enrolment of names in the voters list and a voter awareness programme that helped in removal of urban apathy.

"There is need to make paid an electoral offence under the Representation of the People Act. The Commission's proposals are before the Law Ministry in this regard," he told PTI in an interview in which he analyses various significant features of the general elections and the steps it took to complete the mammoth exercise in a free and fair manner.

'Paid news' is a practice by which a candidate in an election gets a media carry favourable write ups in a newspaper or features on television channels for payment of a fee. The same material also appears in several newspapers on a given day. Some times money is also paid to blank out write ups on the rival candidates.

Sampath said compared to last Lok Sabha polls, the Commission adopted a structured response to the menace this elections.

"We had committees at the district level and state level to keep vigilance for detection of paid Notices were served in over 3,000 cases of paid news of which 7,000 have been confirmed. But because of the lacuna in the legal framework we are able to deal with paid news only from expenditure angle as of now," he said.

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First Published: Tue, May 20 2014. 12:24 IST