EC gets more days to fine tune mechanism for pol ads on TV

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today gave another three days to the Election Commission and the government too to fine-tune a mechanism for political advertising on the electronic medium after being not satisfied by what the Commission said had been done, though the latter reiterated that a blanket ban would be a better option considering the time constraints.

The Election Commission had conveyed to the apex court that it was proposing to limit political advertisements in electronic media to registered political parties and contesting candidates. As reported by, the Commission also conveyed to the court that all political advertisements would be vetted by it seven before their

actual screening. This suggestion too hasn’t found much favour with the SC.

Interestingly, the EC suggested in the court through its counsel that Gemini TV, which had approached the high court for stay on Rule 7(3) of Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act that banned political advertising on TV, was a proxy for political parties who themselves did not want to come to the court.

Reiterating continuance of its earlier order banning all "offensive and slanderous" political advertisements on cable TV networks and TV channels, a bench comprising Chief Justice VN Khare, Justice SB Sinha and Justice SH Kapadia wanted the EC to fine tune its guidelines while questioning as to "how any citizen could be deprived of his right to put an advertisement in the electronic media?" agency reports stated quoting from the court proceedings.

Posting for Monday, further hearing on the appeal filed by the information and broadcasting ministry challenging an Andhra Pradesh High Court order allowing political advertisements on TV, the Bench took note of Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee's suggestion that the guidelines required "fine tuning," agencies reported.

Appearing for the EC, senior advocate KK Venugopal said it is not possible to put in place a "foolproof" mechanism to monitor political advertisements within such a short span of time and advocated continuance of the ban on all political advertisements under Section 7(3) of the Cable TV Network Rules, 1994.

Political parties should not fire from the shoulder of a cable operator for stay of Rule 7(3), he said but added that EC would abide by apex Court's suggestions.

Meanwhile, deputy prime minister LK Advani, on his rath yatra of the country today said his government would consider promulgation of an ordinance on the issue of banning opinion and exit polls if the Election Commission approached it for the same, news agencies reported from Patna.

"I am on Bharat Uday Yatra. I cannot tell much about it but the government will definitely consider promulgating an ordinance to ban the opinion and exit polls provided the Commission moots such proposal," he told a press conference in Bihar.

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