Media Certification and Monitoring Committee finds Mishra guilty of charge

The Election Commission has added Rs. 42,640.60 to the election expenditure account of Narottam Mishra, a BJP Minister who holds the Law portfolio.

On November 19, the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of Datia, the district and constituency Mr. Mishra is contesting from, found him guilty of sponsoring paid news. The State level MCMC in Bhopal confirmed the Datia MCMC’s decision on November 22 and rejected Mr. Mishra’s appeal.

He has a month after polling to submit his final accounts and it remains to be seen if he will include the amount paid to four newspapers or appeal against the decision to the EC in New Delhi. Mr. Mishra and his aides refused to answer queries.

In 2008, Mr. Mishra was accused of sponsoring news in his favour and the matter is still under adjudication by the EC. A similar case seeking to disqualify the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, for not including in his campaign expenses payment allegedly made for news coverage, is pending before the Supreme Court.

In the present case, the Datia MCMC found that four Hindi newspapers — Datia’s Uday Desh and the Gwalior edition of Dainik Madhya Rajya, Raj Express and Dainik Acharan — printed a news item about the laying of a road in Bundela Colony. The order says the language and photographs used are the same, which indicate that they were authored and distributed by a single source. All articles, published on November 1 after the model code came into force, echo praise of Mr. Mishra.