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Political Ads: SC asks EC to bring in workable formula

09-April-2004
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Political Ads: SC asks EC to bring in workable formula

Suggesting “fine tuning” in the guidelines submitted by the Election Commission for monitoring political advertisements in the electronic media, the Supreme Court has sought response of the government on the issue within three days.

The Commission on Thursday informed the apex court that it proposes to limit the right to insert advertisement on TV channels and cable networks to the 700-odd registered political parties and all contesting candidates and that all advertisements be submitted for vetting seven days before telecast.

A bench comprising Chief Justice VN Khare, justices SB Sinha and SH Kapadia suggested fine tuning of the guidelines and sought responses of the Centre and Gemini TV, on whose petition the high court had allowed TV channels to telecast political ads by staying the ban provision under section 7(3) of the Cable Network Rules, 1994.

On the proposed guidelines, the bench wondered as to how can the fundamental right to expression of a common citizen, which included inserting ads in the electronic media, be stifled by limiting the facility to registered political parties and contesting candidates.

The court also took note of the submissions of Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee that the guidelines need amendments as the seven days vetting period suggested by the EC is “unworkable”.

Asserting that ban on political ads is in force in several developed countries like Germany, Britain, France and Sweden, EC said its guidelines will allow the 700-odd registered political parties and all contesting candidates to advertise on TV.

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