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Can't stop political comments, posts by private individuals on social media: ECI to Bombay HC

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The of (ECI) on Friday told the that it could not restrain private individuals from making political comments or posts on in favour of or against any political party 48 hours before polling day.

The commission, through its Pradeep Rajgopal, was responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer,

The PIL sought directions to the ECI to prohibit all persons, whether politicians or private individuals, from posting advertisements related to or elections, or paid political content on platforms such as YouTube, and Twitter, 48 hours before election day.

The ECI told a bench of and Justice N M Jamdar that there already existed rules prohibiting politicians and political parties from indulging in any form of political advertisement or campaigning 48 hours before polling day.

Rajgopal submitted that Section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, prohibited public meetings, processions, campaigns etc 48 hours before polls.

He told the court the display of advertisements and paid political content through just before polling day was also prohibited under the Act and posts were also covered under these restrictions.

"However, if an individual makes a blog post or post in his or her individual capacity in praise of any one political party or its policies, then how can the stop him or her," Rajgopal said.

The petitioner's lawyer, Abhinav Chandrachud, however, told the bench that such as had in the UK and the USA where all advertisements and paid content were subjected to a strict verification process. He argued that a similar policy must be implemented in too.

The bench directed both parties to submit suggestions on ways to regulate such paid political content on social media before polling day.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 15:35 IST