[pib] Report on Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, Submitted

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 126 of Representation of the People Act, 1951

Mains level: Role of Social Media in influencing elections


News

  • A Committee constituted to review and suggest modifications and changes in the provisions of the Section 126 and other sections of the RP Act 1951, provisions of Model Code of Conduct and any other ECI instruction has submitted its report.
  • The recommendations made by the Committee, when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.

Background

  1. The task of maintaining campaign silence during last 48 hours before the conclusion of polling is becoming increasingly onerous in the light of the increasing influence of digital media.
  2. So, apart from the regulation by law and ECI instructions, the resolve, proactive support and sustained effort by all stake holders is necessary to contain the evil impact.

Section 126 of RP Act, 1951

  1. Section 126 of the RP Act prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
  2. “Election matter” has been defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.
  3. Violation of the provisions of Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both.
  4. It prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period mentioned therein, in the hour fixed for commencement of polls in the first phase and half hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase in all the States.

Scope of Reform

  1. Section 126 and other related Sections of the RP Act, 1951
  2. Prohibitory period of 48 hours before the completion of the poll
  3. Impact of new media platforms and social media during the prohibitory period of 48 hours before the close of poll campaign.
  4. Provisions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to the related issue
Social Media: Prospect and Challenges
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