I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, while responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, said that the Press Council of India has recommended an amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1951 in order to make the incidence of paid news punishable electoral malpractice.
He added that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has also recommended including ‘Paid News’ in the category of corrupt practices or electoral offences. Further, the Law Commission of India in its 255th report on ‘Electoral Reform’ has inter alia recommended ban on paid news. “There is no proposal for having a separate Ombudsman for media organizations.”
As reported, Javadekar, in December 2019, had informed the Lok Sabha that 4302 cases of paid news have been reported to the ECI during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Between 2007 to 2019, 799 cases of paid news were reported to ECI during the state legislative assembly elections.
The ECI has a well-structured mechanism at the national, state and district levels to receive complaints relating to ‘Paid News’ and take necessary remedial action.