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  Metros   Mumbai  27 Mar 2019  ECI rebuked for failure to pass order on poll ads

ECI rebuked for failure to pass order on poll ads

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 27, 2019, 2:46 am IST
Updated : Mar 27, 2019, 2:46 am IST

The court said it would pass appropriate order on the petition.

Twitter and YouTube had told the bench that they already permit only such political ads that had been verified by the Election Commission.
 Twitter and YouTube had told the bench that they already permit only such political ads that had been verified by the Election Commission.

Mumbai: Coming down heavily on the Election Commission of India (ECI) for failing to pass any orders for regulating political advertisements on the social media for 48 hours before the polling day, the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday reserved an order on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking ECI to regulate fake news in the form of paid political ads on social media.

The court said it would pass appropriate order on the petition.

Reprimanding the ECI, the division bench of Chief Justice NH Patil and Justice NM Jamdar asked why the ECI was hesitant on passing regulatory orders on such advertisements.

Though Pradeep Rajagopal, counsel for ECI, told the bench that there was no apprehension on its part, however, Justice Patil observed that the conduct of ECI during the hearing was such that it made it apparent that the ECI was hesitant on bringing about such a regulation.  

The court's observation came when the ECI informed the court that it had conducted a meeting with various social media intermediaries in New Delhi earlier this month, where the intermediaries had agreed to adopt a ‘voluntary code of ethics’ ensuring advertisements were displayed on their respective platforms only after they were verified by the ECI.

However, the court noted that the issue of the 48-hour blackout was not discussed in the meeting. The bench further stated that the ECI could not pass off its responsibility to social media intermediaries and expect them to impose voluntary regulations for the elections.

During a previous hearing, social networking site, Facebook had told the court that it had introduced a strict “verification processes” for all political ads and paid content of “national interest" on its website in India ahead of the 2019 general elections. Twitter and YouTube had told the bench that they already permit only such political ads that had been verified by the Election Commission.

They had, however, submitted that they could not impose a 48-hour blackout unless the Election Commission of India or any other central government authority issued specific directions to the effect.

Tags: election commission of india, bombay high court