Govt must amend law to ban opinion polls, says EC

Govt must amend law to ban opinion polls, says EC

Govt must amend law to ban opinion polls, says EC

The banning of opinion polls seems to be a hot potato that nobody wants to touch. After the Union Law Ministry asked the Election Commission (EC) to invoke its constitutional powers and ban opinion polls during elections, the commission is sending the matter back to the government, Deccan Herald has learnt.

Opinion polls could be banned only through an amendment to the  Representation of the People Act, explained sources in the EC, adding that it was incumbent on the government to take such decisions.

In 2009, the EC banned airing of exit polls till voting was completed. But this was done after the government amended the Act. 

Similarly, the law ministry has to take a call on amending the law for opinion polls to be banned during elections, said sources. The EC is shortly expected to inform the law ministry of its internal decision in this regard, according to persons familar with the matter.

The law ministry had asked the EC to exercise its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to ban opinion polls.

A recent sting operation named ‘Operation Prime Minister’, broadcast by News Express, showed some companies manipulating opinion polls in favour of political parties who were willing to pay for favourable results.

This prompted the EC to write to the law ministry seeking necessary action on its pending proposal to ban opinion polls. The Congress too had approached the EC and sought a ban on opinion polls.

In 1999, the EC had issued strict guidelines against publication and broadcast of opinion poll results. These were withdrawn after the EC came under attack from critics, who argued it would curb free speech and expression.

Last year, the EC had written to the government, seeking an amendment providing for a ban on opinion polls once the election process began.