Monday, April 15, 2024

Remove photos, audio, videos of public reps from govt portals: CEO

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Chief Secretary Dr KS Jawahar Reddy has issued directives to ensure the strict implementation of the model code of conduct (MCC) ahead of the forthcoming general and assembly elections in the state. On Tuesday, State Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Kumar Meena convened a meeting with special chief secretaries, principal secretaries, and secretaries to discuss the MCC’s enforcement.
Addressing the gathering, the CS emphasised the immediate removal of photos, audio, and videos featuring public representatives from all government websites. Additionally, instructions were given to eliminate any depictions of public representatives, such as photos and flexes, from government offices ranging from the state level down to the village level. Moreover, all political advertisements on government properties were mandated to be taken down.
Chief Secretary Dr Jawahar Reddy instructed secretaries to promptly address any complaints received regarding violations of the election code of conduct by any department. He reiterated that strict action would be taken by election rules against government employees found participating in party campaign activities. Furthermore, he urged all officials to rigorously adhere to the guidelines set by the Central Election Commission regarding the implementation of the Election Code of Conduct. Given that many secretary-level officers will serve as election observers, he stressed the importance of thoroughly acquainting themselves with these guidelines to ensure full compliance with election conduct protocols.
CS Jawahar Reddy directed all secretaries to submit a report in a specified format provided by the CEO regarding the election code of conduct.
State Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Kumar Meena elucidated the guidelines issued by the Central Election Commission concerning the enforcement of the code of conduct for elections. He clarified that it is prohibited to announce new schemes after the election schedule is published and the election code is enforced. The CEO emphasized that despite budget provisions, the initiation of new projects, schemes, subsidies, grants, and foundations is entirely prohibited. He underscored that work should not commence at the departmental level where work orders have been issued. However, he clarified that there are no restrictions on disbursing funds for completed projects or the distribution of various types of pensions. Additionally, after the code’s implementation, public representatives are barred from conducting reviews or video conferences on government schemes and programs. CEO Meena also highlighted that under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme, regular employment can be provided to various registered beneficiaries. He clarified that if tenders for any work were initiated before the code of conduct took effect, the process could continue, but finalization of tenders would not be permitted.
CEO Meena said that while public representatives such as Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, and State Ministers can participate in celebrations of nationally important days like ‘Sadbhavana Divas’ and ‘Gandhi Jayanti’, they must refrain from delivering political speeches during such events. He warned that disciplinary action, as per the provisions of CCA section 171 and sections 123, 129, 134, and 134 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, would be taken against any government employee found favouring any political party, participating in election campaigns organized by parties, or receiving gifts or other benefits. CEO Meena provided clarifications on various aspects related to the code of conduct for elections.

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