The office of the Returning Officer, East Delhi, issued a showcause notice regarding an advertisement for the upcoming movie, PM Narendra Modi, that was carried in two newspapers Wednesday.
The notice has been issued to Dainik Bhaskar and Dainik Jagran's city supplement Jagran City, Legend Global Studio, Blue Lotus Production and T-Series.
The notice, issued Wednesday, states, "It has been observed by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee of East Delhi Parliamentary constituency that there is a full page advertisement… promoting a biopic of 'PM Narendra Modi'. This appears to be a surrogate advertisement which appears to have political overtures contrary to the express Model Code of Conduct Manual… which has been brought into force by Election Commission of India from March 10."
The notice also asks the respondents to "submit/produce documents/certification obtained from Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) set up under Election Commission" by March 25. Certification from MCMC, however, is not required for ads in print media.
According to the District Election Officer K Mahesh, who issued the notice, the newspapers have been given a notice to get details of the advertiser and the person who made the payment."Under rules for surrogate advertisements in MCC, and the Representation of People Act, any expenditure in surrogate advertisements has to be added to the expenditure account of the candidate concerned or the political party concerned," Mahesh said.
Sources, however, said that there are grey areas that exist within the rules for certification of advertisements."When it comes to things like social media and movies, rules are not very clear. It is not immediately clear if this can be categorised as a political advertisement or not…," said an official.
Anand Pandey, editor, Dainik Bhaskar, said he was yet to receive the notice. Sanjay Gupta, editor, Dainik Jagran, did not respond to calls or messages. T-Series and Legend Global Studio could not be contacted for comment.