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Report No. 255

F. Recommendations

(i) Expand scope of Section 126 of the RPA, 1951

8.27.1. Currently, as discussed above in Part 1 of this Chapter, the ban under Section 126(1)(b) on display of election matter forty-eight hours before polling begins is limited to display by means of 'cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus'. Since this Section is also used to limit the broadcast of opinion polls and other similar content, the ban applies only to opinion polls in the electronic and not the print media.

8.27.2. This anomaly in the applicability in the law relating to publication of election matter must be rectified, particularly in an age where digital and print media are closely interconnected. Therefore, the Law Commission recommends that Section 126(1)(b) be amended as follows:

126 (1) No person shall...

(a) ...

(b) publish, publicise or disseminate any election matter by means of print or electronic media; or

(c) ...

(2) ...

(2A) No court shall take cognisance of any offence punishable under sub-section (1) unless there is a complaint made by order of, or under authority from, the Election Commission or the Chief Electoral Officer of the State concerned.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section,-

(a) "election matter" means any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.

(b) "electronic media" includes internet, radio and television including Internet Protocol Television, satellite, terrestrial or cable channels, mobile and such other media either owned by the Government or private person or by both;

(c) "print media" includes any newspaper, magazine or periodical, poster, placard, handbill or any other document;

(d) "disseminate" includes publication in any "print media" or broadcast or display on any electronic media.

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