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Don’t permit defacing of government premises: Election Commission

Special Correspondent

Guidelines issued to Home Secretary, Chief Secretaries and Chief Electoral Officers

— PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

Poll mode: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami flanked by Election Commissioners S.Y. Qureshi (left) and Navin Chawla, during a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday to announce Assembly elections in five States.

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission has written to the Chief Secretaries and Chief Electoral Officers of all States and Union Territories and the Union Home Secretary, laying down comprehensive guidelines for prevention of defacement of property during the campaign.

The Commission has said it earlier suggested that the State governments enact special laws for dealing effectively with the menace.

Some States enacted special regulatory legislation, while the others either “have legislation that only cover specific areas like municipalities, etc, or no legislation at all.”

According to the guidelines, “No wall writing, pasting of posters/papers or defacement in any other form, or erecting/displaying of cutouts, hoardings, banners, flags, etc, shall be permitted on any government premises (including civil structures therein).” For this purpose, government premises would include any government office and the campus on which the office building is situated.

Equal opportunity

“If the local law expressly permits or provides for writing slogans, displaying posters, etc., or erecting cutouts, hoardings, banners, political advertisement, etc., in any public place (as against government premises) 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. It should be ensured that any such place is not dominated/monopolised by any particular party(ies) or candidate(s). All parties and candidates should be provided equal opportunity.”

“In the States where there is no local law on the subject and subject to the restrictions under the law where there is a law, temporary and easily removable advertisement materials such as flags and banners may be put up on private premises with the voluntary permission of the occupant. The permission should be an act of free will and not extracted under any pressure or threat. Such banner or flag should not create nuisance to others.

“Where the local law expressly permits wall writings and pasting of posters, putting up hoardings, banners, etc, on private premises with the owner’s permission, the candidates or the political parties concerned shall obtain prior written permission from the owner of the property. Nothing inflammatory or likely to incite disaffection amongst communities shall be permissible in such writings/display.”

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