New Delhi: The Election Commission has issued 73 notices to candidates in the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls for paid news of which 19 have already been confirmed by the committee of the poll body. "We had 73 notices (for paid news) issued this time in the state and of these, 19 cases have been confirmed as paid news by our committee," Election Commission Director General Akshay Raut said at a press conference here.
He said the remaining cases were being investigated and of the 73 cases, 21 were in Solan followed closely by Mandi with 20. Listing it as an achievement of the Election Commission to check paid news, Raut said these would be treated as an advertisement and added to the election expenditure of the candidate.
"Once the Committee finds there is a paid news incident between a candidate and media, a notice is issued to the candidate to accept this as expenditure or give an explanation why it should not be done so," he said. Candidates in Himachal Pradesh assembly elections have a limit of Rs 11 lakh each on their poll expenditure.
In case of the media channel or newspaper, "this is passed over to the Press Council of India, whatever it wants to do with the media," Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said. Raut said for the first time in the state election, timelines were introduced to take steps on cases of paid news.
Earlier by the time, paid news enforcement was done, the time was over and expenses accounts would have been filed. That has not been allowed to happen this time, he said. On the seizure of cash and drugs in the state during the electioneering process, Shukla said a total of over Rs 3 crore was intercepted of which Rs 23 lakh was seized as it was not accounted for and the remaining amount returned.
He said drugs worth around Rs 44 lakh was also seized by the authorities. These included charas and poppy.