Bihar Elections: EC wants immediate ban on
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 09:07:48 PM,
The Election Commission has "urgently" asked the Law Ministry to
issue an ordinance to ban opinion polls so that elections in Bihar
are conducted in a "free and fair" manner, officials said here
In a letter to secretary, law and justice, D.R. Meena, Election
Commission Secretary K.F. Wilfred said it is "extremely desirable"
that the law on dissemination of opinion polls allowed under the
Representation of the People Act, 1951 should be amended urgently.
"It has been observed that various agencies connected with
electronic and print media are presently conducting opinion polls
in the context of current general election to the Bihar
legislative assembly and some of them have even published the
results of such opinion polls quite recently," Wilfred said in the
"It is, therefore, extremely desirable that the law on the subject
is amended urgently by issuing an ordinance," it said.
A month-long six-phased election for the 243-member assembly in
Bihar is beginning Thursday. Voting will be conducted in 47
assembly seats Thursday.
"Such a restriction would be in the wider interests of free and
fair elections as such opinion polls often tend to cause
prejudicial effect on the minds of electors," he added.
In his letter, he said that in April 2004, the poll panel had
discussed exit polls and opinion polls with recognised national
and state political parties and had found that there was a
"unanimous view" for prohibition on publishing the results of
opinion polls. Also, politicians asked that the exit polls should
be shown only when elections are over.
The poll panel said it had made a similar recommendation to them
April 6, 2004.
"The recent (2010) amendment to the Representation of the People
Act, 1951 to prohibit conduct of exit polls is a follow up action
on the above mentioned recommendation of the political parties and
the commission," said Wilfred, adding that only exit polls were
The commission also stressed that they have issued an order to
both print and electronic media for not conducting any exit polls
from the first phase of the Bihar elections to the final phase.
The ban is effective from 7 a.m. Oct 21 to 5.30 p.m. Nov 20.
Wilfred said although there are restrictions on exit polls, it is
"permissible to conduct opinion polls at all times and there will
be no restriction even on the dissemination of results of such
"It may be possible to prohibit the dissemination of results of
opinion polls during the period of 48 hours ending with the close
of poll in any polling area under section 126(1)(b) of the
Representation of the People Act, 1951," he urged.
"The publication or dissemination of results of opinion polls when
the election process is still on, will defeat the very purpose and
object underlying the prohibition imposed on the conduct and
dissemination of results of exit polls by the above referred
sections 126A and 126B of the Representation of the People Act,
1951," he stressed in his letter.
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