EC asks state, UT CEOs to take action against defacing Govt premises

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New Delhi, Oct 14 (UNI) The Election Commission has directed the Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretaries and the Chief Electoral Officers of all States and Union Territories to strictly follow that no wall writing, pasting of posters/papers or defacement in any other form or erecting/displaying of cutouts, hoarding and banners flags be permitted on any Government premises, including civil structures therein.

According to the EC order, in this regard, a Government premises would include any Government office and the campus wherein the office building is situated.

If the local law expressly provides for writing of slogans, displaying posters or erecting cut outs, hoarding, banners, political advertisement in any public place on payment or otherwise, this may be allowed strictly in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law and subject to court orders, if any, on this subject. It should be ensured that any such place is not dominated/monopolised by any particular parties or candidates.

All parties and candidates should be provided equal opportunity in this regard.

The EC directive further said that if there is a specially earmarked place for displaying advertisements in a public place, billboards, hoardings and if such space is already let out to any agency for further allocation to individual clients, the District Election Officer (DEO), through the municipal authority concerned, if any, should ensure that all political parties and candidates get equal opportunity to have access to a such space for election-related advertisement during the election period.

The order also pointed out that in the states, where there are no local laws on the matter or where there is a law and the matter is under subject to restrictions of the law, temporary and easily removable advertisement materials, such as flags and banners may be put up in the private premises with the voluntary permission of the occupant. The permission should be an act of free will and not extracted by any pressure or threat. Such a banner or flag should not create any nuisance to others. Photocopy of the voluntary permission in writing in this connection should be submitted to the Returning Officer (RO) or an officer designated by him for the purpose, together with a statement in the enclosed proforma within three days of putting up the flags and banners in such cases.

The order said that if any political party, asociation, candidate/person indulges in defacement of any property in violation of the local law, if any, or the above instructions, the RO/DEO shall issue notice to the offender asking for removal of the advertisement material forthwith. If the offenders do not respond promptly, the district authorities may take action to remove the materials and the expenses incurred in the process shall be recovered from the party/person responsible for the defacement and this amount will be added to the election expenditure of the candidate concerned.

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