The district administration has launched a crackdown on printing presses for publishing campaign materials in violation of the guidelines laid down by the Election Commission of India.
The drive was necessitated by the rampant use of poll-related publicity materials including posters, banners and flex boards which did not bear the names and addresses of the printer and publisher. The failure to declare the identity of the publisher threatened to pave way for the unauthorised election expenditure by political parties and candidates.
A team led by Assistant Collector G. Priyanka, who is also the nodal officer in charge of enforcing the Model Code of Conduct in the district, inspected eight publishing units and issued warnings to those outlets which were found to have violated the prescribed norms. The drive will continue until the conclusion of the poll-related activities. Stringent measures will be adopted against repeat violators, officials said.
According to Ms. Priyanka, the anti-defacement squads have removed several posters and banners which did not adhere to the guidelines. However, many were found to have resurfaced on the subsequent days, posing a daunting task for the officials to identify the source.
The official pointed out that the lapse could result in the invocation of Section 171H of the Indian Penal Code which pertained to failure of candidates to furnish details of expenses incurred on account of holding of any public meeting, advertisement, circular or publication. Besides, any attempt to attain electoral gains on religious grounds could also results in action adopted under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race or caste.
The district authorities have currently deployed its two district-level flying squads and an anti-defacement squad. Besides, Legislative Assembly Constituency (LAC)-based teams, one anti-defacement squad and four flying squads each, have also been pressed into action. (EOM/SBG)