As the code of conduct is in effect in the city due to the civic polls, which will be held on February 16, Manasi Saraf Joshi spoke to deputy municipal commissioner KC Karkar who is also the returning officer for the polls.
How will the issue of paid news be handled during the civic polls?
Well, the issue has recently become important since the media’s coverage has grown extensively in the country in the last couple of years. It is really difficult to keep a tab on every medium. We have 14 returning officers for every ward in the city and these returning officers are assisted by three assistant returning officers. These officers will do video shooting, site visits, receive complaints and file cases against the guilty. After the elections, these complaints are addressed and those found guilty are punished. So it is a continuous process.
What does the rule book say?
There are some 50 rules and regulations included in the code of conduct. It includes visits to religious places, communal riots, campaigning, prabhat pheris, distribution of gifts or money and many others.
We have to focus on all these points to ensure smooth functioning of the civic polls.
How does media fit into the rule book?
It is hard to control the news flow as it is difficult to establish whether it is paid news or not. Since this is relatively a new concept, we need to check which criterion will be applicable for the media. A framework has to be made to address the issue of candidates and parties handling the media during civic polls.
Describe your experience as a returning officer?
I have handled many polls including bank, MLAs, gram panchayat and gram sabha. So it’s not a new or difficult job for me. Of course, the returning officer has to be alert 24X7.