New Delhi: There was no leak of information from the Election Commission regarding the poll schedule of Karnataka and the media report was based on "mere speculation", a committee formed by the poll panel to look into alleged leak of poll schedule ahead of the EC's announcement said on Friday.
"Historically, media has speculated the schedules of elections in the past. In the instant case, it seems similar attempts were made. However, as pointed out by Times Now channel in its response, The channel assessed the details from informed sources. Given that the information was not entirely accurate it is obvious it was not a leak, the alleged leak was not a leak and was mere speculation," the Committee said in its report.
"Thus the committee is of the opinion that there was no leak of schedule of elections to the Karnataka legislative assembly, 2018," it added.
However, it noted that the presentation of the news by Times Now and other channels and its subsequent tweeting by politicians just as the Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat was making the announcement was "avoidable" and they "could have acted in a more responsible manner".
It said that the existing process/system is "robust enough", but considering the secrecy of the process the Committee will "separately brief the Commission for further strengthening the process, if required".
On March 27, a controversy had broken out when the ruling BJP's IT cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted that Karnataka would go to poll on May 12, even as the CEC was addressing the media in New Delhi and was yet to make the formal announcement.
The EC then formed a committee headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha to look into the possible leak of information. It later came to light that Karnataka Congress leader Srivatsa Y.B. had also tweeted the same dates and that a few Kannada channels also flashed the news at exactly the same time, that is, 11.08 a.m.
In their responses, they all cited Times Now as their source of information which had flashed the news at 11.06 a.m. The CEC announced the schedule at 11.20 a.m.