Karnataka poll schedule was not leaked, an Election Commission committee said in its report on Friday.
On March 28, the Election Commission (EC) had constituted a committee of six officials to probe how information on the Karnataka Assembly poll dates was leaked even before Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat made an announcement in the regard.
The Committee said alleged leak first appeared on an English TV news channel at 11.06 am, which was used by others including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT cell head Amit Malviya and Karnataka Congress lT Head Srivatsa.
"The Channel in its response said 'Channel assessed the details from informed sources. Given that the information was not entirely accurate it was obvious it was not a leak'. The Committee is of the opinion that there was no leak of schedule of elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, 2018," the Committee said in its report.
"The presentation of the news item by TV channels as well as tweets by political party leaders regarding Karnataka poll date, just as Commission was making the announcement, was avoidable and they could have acted in more responsible manner," the Committee added.
It also pointed out that the political parties should have avoided from tweeting when the Commission was announcing poll dates.
"The time of the announcement of the schedule is integral to the electoral process . It is the responsibility of all the stakeholders including media and political parties not to attempt any speculation that may create doubt in the minds of our stakeholders and citizens at large," the Committee said.
"However, considering the secrecy of the process the committee will separately brief the commission for further strengthening the process, if required." it added.
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.