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Report No. 255

(ii) Disclosure provisions

7.25.1. Section 127A of the RPA imposes certain disclosure requirements on printing pamphlets, posters etc. These should bear names and addresses of the printer and the publisher. In order to enforce the requirement, it also mandates a declaration as to the identity of the publisher thereof, signed by him and attested by two persons to whom he is personally known. Furthermore, the printer is also obligated to send one copy of the document along with one copy of the declaration to the mentioned authorities.

7.25.2. Section 127A defines "Election pamphlet or poster" as "any printed pamphlet, hand-bill or other document distributed for the purpose of promoting or prejudicing the election of a candidate or group of candidates or any placard or poster having reference to an election, but does not include any hand-bill, placard or poster merely announcing the date, time, place and other particulars of an election meeting or routine instructions to election agents or workers"

7.25.3. The section imposes duties of disclosure on both candidates/agents and printers/publishers. It does not expressly mention newspapers and only mentions specific stationery that the candidates use for election campaign. However, as per the instructions of the Commission issued on 08.06.2010263 and 16.10.2007264, printing "other documents" for the purpose of section 127A265 includes any paid content published. Failure on part of any party to make such disclosures invites punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both. However, it does not qualify as a ground for disqualification.

263. Vide No. 491/Media/2012 dated 08.06.2010

264. Vide No. 3/09/207/JS-I dated 16.10.2007

265. These include restrictions on the printing of pamphlets, posters, etc.

7.25.4. The disclosure provisions are not sufficient to tackle the practices of paid news and disguised political advertising. This is because the provision itself is not sufficient to cover advertisements in newspapers or electronic media. Such practices have only been targeted through ad-hoc instructions of ECI. Specific disclosure norms with respect to advertisements in newspaper and electronic media are required for clarity and certainty.

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