No political advertisements to be telecast without prior clearance from EC.
The Supreme Court ordered that no political advertisements would be telecast without a prior clearance of the Election Commission which was made the sole authority to judge the “cleanness” of such advertisements.
To end “offensive and slanderous” political and surrogate advertisements during the elections, the Court framed a comprehensive guidelines under which no advertisement could be inserted by any political party, candidate or person without a prior clearance from the Election Commission or the chief electoral officers in the states.
Taking into account the suggestions of Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee and KK Venugopal, appearing for the Election Commission, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice VN Khare, Justice SB Sinha and Justice SH Kapadia, said if it was found that advertisements were being telecast in violation of the guidelines, the poll panel would be empowered to seize the equipment of the offending TV channel or cable network.
Directing that the guidelines would remain effective between April 16 and May 10, the Bench set a time limit for clearance of advertisements by the Election Commission.
Moreover, it ordered that the provision banning canvassing 48 hours before polling would be applicable to political advertisements in electronic media also.
In an attempt to stop surrogate advertisements, the apex court has made it mandatory for the advertisers to state on affidavit whether the insertion was funded by political parties and whether it was meant to benefit a political party or a candidate.
The apex court said the guidelines would operate in continuation of its April 2 order, which banned telecast of all advertisements which were not in conformity with the law and were offensive, slanderous and derogatory in nature.
The court set time limits for the recognised political parties, candidates and other persons for submission of their proposed advertisements to the Election Commission or its designated officers for clearance.
For the first phase of polls, scheduled for April 20, the court said all advertisements had to be submitted along with their transcripts, costs of production and costs of advertisement in electronic media two days before the proposed date of telecast.
For the rest of the polling period, the advertisements by recognised political parties and contesting candidates have to be submitted with details three days before the proposed telecast, the Bench said, adding that if the advertisement was by any other person or trust, it should be submitted seven days prior to the telecast date.
The court said the district magistrates or his nominees would be authorised by the election commission to be designated authorities for the purpose of screening of the surrogate advertisements.
The bench said the chief electoral officers in the states could appoint a sub-committee to hear grievances against the refusal of grant of certification to the advertisements and added that the committee's order would be binding on all. It could be challenged only before the supreme court and none else, it said.