The Election Commission of India on Monday in a statement said that social media companies will have to follow the voluntary code of ethics that the commission had introduced ahead of the 2019 general elections, reported Hindustan Times. It further said that there will be no dilution of existing rules and regulations, as per the report.
According to Hindustan Times, Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits election campaigning by any means 48 hours before voting takes place. While referring to all the social media companies that agreed to sign the voluntary code of ethics, the commission said that “Facebook was only one of the attendees along with other important social media intermediaries… (such as) Twitter, Google, YouTube, Sharechat and representatives of IAMAI.”
Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra on Monday asked chief electoral officers (CEOs) of all states and union territories to "expeditiously" redress pending applications related to voter registration, even as he asked them to ensure better facilities at all booths in the country.
The CEC said this to the CEOs during a day-long conference held here to review a host of issues related to the poll process in the country.
An Election Commission (EC) spokesperson said in a statement that the conference discussed and reviewed "various thematic issues related to electoral rolls, polling stations, ongoing special summary revision, IT (information technology) applications, timely resolution of grievances, electronic voting machines (EVMs), voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), training and capacity building of polling staff, media and communication and extensive voter outreach program amongst others".
CEC Chandra, the statement said, stressed on the significance of effectiveness and visibility of the CEOs as they represent the commission in the states.
"He (CEC) asked the CEOs to ensure purity of the electoral roll, availability of assured minimum facilities and to ensure better facilities at all polling booths for all voters," it said.
The CEC also asked the CEOs for "expeditious redressal of all pending applications especially with regard to voter registration," the statement said. Chandra told the CEOs that all efforts should be made to ensure better voter experience.
"CEOs should have regular interaction with political parties to redress their grievances, if any," Chandra said. The CEC "emphasised" that new initiatives and best practices by the CEOs for election-related activities should be regularly disseminated through the media for enhanced outreach.
He said that the objective of the conference was to identify the gaps and challenges to ensure instructions of the commission are implemented uniformly in all states and union territories across the country. Election commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey also attended the conference and spoke to the officers.
Kumar said the legal and regulatory framework of the elections is quite robust, but the implementation of various instructions of the commission on the field was very critical. "He (Kumar) stressed that CEOs need to be innovative, be more active and should learn from each other's best practices and challenges," the statement said.
Pandey asked the CEOs to ensure good training and capacity building of BLOs (booth level officers) as the effectiveness of EC activities depends upon the effective implementation by field-level election officials. "He (Pandey) emphasised that CEOs need to ensure that correct information and facts are regularly shared with the local media for enhanced outreach," the statement said.
The conference also saw the commission release a number of publications including a 'Compendium of Cases on Election Law' and an 'Information Booklet For Voters'. The booklet contains end-to-end information starting from voter registration, postal ballot, casting of vote through EVM-VVPAT and various facilities provided for the voters at polling stations, the statement said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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