‘There should be no restriction on media reporting’: EC clarifies amid SC hearing on its Madras HC remark plea
New Delhi: The Election Commission on Wednesday clarified its viewpoint with regard to the coverage of matters concerning it in the media. The poll panel noted that it recognises the positive role played by the media and that there should not be any curbs of press reporting.The statement by the Election Commission came in view of the strong observations made by the Supreme Court on the former’s plea seeking to restrain the media from reporting remarks made orally by the Madras High Court during the course of a proceeding.The apex court had described the EC plea as “too far-fetched” and had also supported the high courts as far as oral observations were concerned, stating that it does not want to demoralise HCs as they too are key pillars of democracy.The SC bench had pointed out that the Madras HC’s observations were not meant to “run down” the poll panel. The SC has, for now, reserved the order on the EC plea.The EC had moved the Supreme Court against Madras HC’s “critical” remarks in which it held the constitutional body responsible for the COVID-19 surge in the country. The HC had even said that poll panel officials should be tried on murder charges.“Media should be able to report everything also to create accountability and the dialogue in court is often to create an umbrella of discussion,” the SC bench said.The EC today concurred and said in the statement that the “Election Commission (is) unanimous that there should not be restriction on media reporting”.“The Election Commission of India has taken note of recent narrative relating to its position in relation to media. The Commission has also come across certain press reports in the same regard. The Commission always has appropriate deliberations before any decisions are taken.“In the context of involvement of media, the Commission wishes to clarify that it stands sincerely committed to its faith in free media. The Commission as a whole and each one of its members recognise the positive role played by media in the conduct of all elections in the past and present and in strengthening electoral democracy in the country. The Election Commission was unanimous that before Hon’ble Supreme Court there should not be any prayer for restriction on media reporting,” the statement read.“The Commission very specially recognises media’s role in enhancing effectiveness of election management and in reinforcing transparency from the very beginning of election process till the end, including transparent coverage during all processes, campaigning and from polling station level to counting. ECI’s approach on the collaboration with media is that of a natural ally and remains unchanged,” it added.