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Opinion polls should be banned: Ex-CEC

Opinion polls should be banned: Ex-CEC
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NEW DELHI: Taking a critical stand on opinion polls, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Thursday suggested that opinion polls should be banned. The former CEC was speaking at a panel discussion, organised as part of the voter awareness campaign by District Magistrate (East) and District Magistrate (South) at India International Centre.

Quraishi explained to the audience that the poll expenditure by the political parties and candidates and anonymity of the handling of campaigning are the main issue are to be taken note of. He also informed that on the advertisement on the release of the frame on biopic of Modi was taken note of EC and high level committee under chairmanship of Deputy Election Commissioner is constituted to enquire into the fact and take final decision to decide whether it is a violation of MCC or not.

The discussion was chaired by Prananjoy Guha Thakurta, noted journalist & TV personality and the key note address was given by the Dr. Ranbir Singh, IAS, Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi. The other members of the panel were Kamal K. Jaswal, IAS (Retd), Former Secretary, IT, GOI; Apar Gupta, Advocate & Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation; Dr. S. Y. Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India; Nidhi Srivastava, IAS, District Election Officer (South); K. Mahesh, IAS, District Election Officer (East); and Prabir Purkayastha, journalist.

The programme started with the welcome address of K. Mahesh, IAS, District Election Officer (East) in which he flagged the issue of misuse of social media, print media and electronic media by the political parties in the form of concealed campaign for the election.

He also flagged that there was a need after the 2014 election to formulate a policy on the use of social media during the election campaign. He stressed that under RP Act, 1951 the paid news must be made a cognizable offence. The existence of voluntary code of ethics is also the need of the hour, which is being developed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

He also stressed that before the period of 48 hours of start of poll any offensive content or violation of MCC should be removed within three hours period. The cyber space does not conform to the geographic or political boundaries, so the artificial intelligence based engines of the social media players needs to use the robust technology to flag such contents.

The CEO, Delhi Dr. Ranbir Singh, IAS in his key note address also stressed on monitoring of the paid news and campaigning through social media, electronic media and print media. He also informed that the Media Certification and Media Monitoring Committee of CEO, Delhi level and Returning Officer/District level are trying to monitor the use of those media by political parties.

During the discussion K. Mahesh, IAS had intimated that the district MCMC had issued show cause notice to two leading Hindi News daily who also published e-newspaper for violation of MCC.

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