An Election Commission panel has held four Lok Sabha election candidates in Maharashtra guilty of resorting to paid news.
In all, 84 complaints of paid news were received by a committee specially set up to keep a watch on paid news. Complaints against Congress candidates - Union Minister of State for Shipping and IT Milind Deora (Mumbai South), Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai North), Vishwajit Kadam (Pune) - and BJP candidate from Pune Deepak Shirole have been found true,
sources in the State Election Office said.
The candidates were found guilty by the district committee set up by the poll body to keep a watch on paid news and this decision (of finding four candidates guilty) has been upheld by the state committee of the election office, sources said. If the charge is established, the news items identified as paid news will be looked as advertisements and will be included in the election expenditure of the candidates, officials said.
Election officials said 801 complaints of violations of model code of conduct were received. FIRs were filed in 75 per cent of the cases. Jatin Desai, member of the state committee, said the decision of the Pune district committee regarding Anil Shirole and Vishwajit Kadam was upheld by the state committee. "The candidates have an option to challenge the order of the state committee within 48 hours of the receipt of the order," he said.
Deora and Nirupam challenged the order of the Mumbai district committee and the hearing was held before the state committee. "Deora's election agent and Nirupam's lawyer told the state committee that they don't want to pursue the matter," Desai said.
Deora and Nirupam will have to pay as per DAVP rates for advertisement in newspapers and the amount will be added in their election expenditure, he added.