By;Prasanta Patnaik,Sr.Media Associate
Raids by the State Vigilance Department, Crime Branch and lately by the CBI to unearth the nexus between the politicians and the chit fund promoters in the multi-thousand crore Chit Fund Scam in the State have raised new hopes in the minds of the people of Odisha who have become tired of several mega scams. How ever many are shocked and surprised to see that none of the investing agencies have so far dared to touch the media houses who played a vital role in promoting the Chit Funds violating the provisions under The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 as they are being treated as "holy cows" by the investigating and prosecuting agencies.
The role of many influential media houses in giving wide publicity to the Chit Funds in both print and electronic media is known to every body in the State and also outside.
Some tv channels had gone to the extend of displaying the logo of the chit fund companies in their screens while telecasting various program to promote the Chit Fund organisations and thereby influencing the innocent investors. Many newspapers also carried full page colour advertisements despite provisions under law not to act in such a manner.
The law is very clear about the provisions under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 . It clearly states under " Section 5. Penalty for other offences in connection with prize chits or money circulation schemes Whoever, with a view to the promotion or conduct of any prize chit or money circulation scheme in contravention of the provisions of this Act or in connection with any chit or scheme promoted or conducted as aforesaid,-
(a) Prints or publishes any ticket, coupon or other document for use in the prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(b) Sells or distributes or offers or advertises for sale or distribution, or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or distribution any ticket, coupon or other document for use in the prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(c) Prints, publishes or distributes, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication or distribution
(i) Any advertisement of the prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(ii) Any list, whether complete or not, of members in the prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(iii) Any such matter descriptive or, or otherwise relating to the prize chit or money circulation scheme, as is calculated to act as an inducement to persons to participate in that prize chit or money circulation scheme or any other prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(d) Brings, or inverts any person to send, for the purpose of sale or distribution, any ticket, coupon or other document for use in a prize chit or money circulation scheme or any advertisement of such prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(e) Uses any premises, or causes or knowingly permits any premises to be used, for purposes connected with the promotion or conduct of the prize chit or money circulation scheme; or
(f) Causes or procures or attempts to procure any person to do any of the above-mentioned acts,
Shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both:
Provided that in the absence of special and adequate reasons to the contrary to be mentioned in the judgement of the court, the imprisonment shall not be lees than one year .
The provisions under Section 8. Forfeiture of newspaper and publication containing prize chit or money circulation scheme Where any newspaper of other publication contains any material connected with any prize chit or money circulation scheme promoted or conducted in contravention of the provisions of this act or any advertisement, in relation there to the state Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare every copy of the newspaper and every copy of the publication containing such material or the advertisement to be forfeited to the state Government.ne shall not be less than one thousand rupees.
The Act very clearly mentions in Section 10. Offences under this Act to be cognizable.All offences punishable under this act shall be cognizable.
However due to "mysterious" reasons sofar none of the law enforcing agencies of the State and Central Government have touched the media as they might be considering that "MEDIA IS HOLY COW ".
By;Prasanta Patnaik,Sr.Media Associate