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Bhayandar: Promoting or defaming any particular candidate on a WhatsApp group might land its administrator in soup this election season.

In an attempt to curb unauthorized campaigning and circulation of offensive posts which could stir up trouble, the Thane (rural) police have started issuing notices to administrators of WhatsApp groups in the district, ahead of the state assembly elections scheduled to be held on 21, October.

One such notice issued under section 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and section 68 of the Maharashtra Police Act, by the Bhayandar police has asked the administrators to discourage group members from making any political comment or targeted criticism which may trigger altercations and lead to untoward incidents.

As per rules candidates intending to campaign through electronic media, short messaging service (SMS) or any other social media platforms like WhatsApp, they are required to seek permission from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC).

"Yes, we have served notices to this effect. Strict action will be initiated against those found to be engaged in such type of campaigning, without an official nod from the election commission authorities," said Deputy SP Shashikant Bhosale. While such type of violations invite proceedings under the provisions of the Representation of People Act, the police is also empowered to take suitable action to prevent a cognizable offence.

As per the contents of the notice, the group admins will be held responsible for criticism or comments by any group member which could create a law and order issue.

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