of Ethics for social media outfits. These outfits Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat and TikTok etc. Let’s find out WHAT, WHY and HOW? Note that Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951, does not cover social media. What is Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951? Article 324 to 329 of Part XV of the Constitution deals with the election system in India. The RPA Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election. The Representation of People Act, 1951 provides for

  • the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament
  • the Houses of the Legislature of each State
  • the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses
  • the corrupt practices and other offences related to elections
  • the decision about disputes arising in connection with such elections
The election offenses as per RPA, 1951 are:
  • Bribery
  • Promoting enmity between classes in connection with election
  • Restrictions on the printing of pamphlet, posters
  • Penalty for Government servants or servants of a local self-Government institution for acting as election agent, polling agent or counting agent
  • Prohibition of canvassing in or near polling stations
  • Offence of booth capturing
Read Also:-India Maldives Relations – A Journey of Twists and Turns Recently the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking a minimum punishment of two years for electoral offences by candidates and political parties. Bribery, undue influence and impersonation are non-cognisable, with punishment of one year in jail, or fine, or both. The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, segregates all the offences listed in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in to ‘cognisable‘ and ‘non-cognisable ’crimes. What are Non-Cognisable Crimes?
  • The pettier offences like cheating, fraud, creating a public nuisance etc.
  • Do not need an immediate action from the police.
  • Investigation begins only after a magistrate has directed the police to start on the case.
The Code of Ethics for Social Media The Election Commission (EC) and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) — the body that represents social media firms agreed on a Code of Ethics. Social media outfits will follow it during the Lok Sabha elections. Its salient features are:
  • It focusses on transparency and steps to “prevent abuse of social media platforms”.
  • The Code is voluntary.
  • Section 126 of the RPA prohibits political parties and candidates from campaigning in the two days before voting. No political campaign will be allowed to run on major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, in the last 48 hours before polling ends.
  • Social media will take down “objectionable content” within three hours of a valid order.
  • Social media firms will train the EC’s nodal officers regarding the working of their platforms.
  • Devising mechanisms for sending requests on dealing with offensive material
  • Developing a “reporting mechanism” through which the EC can inform the platforms about probable violations of Section 126.
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