New Delhi: With the Election Commission seeking proper guidelines for the exit/insta polls and the Union government supporting such polls, the Supreme Court on Thursday decided to examine the validity of these polls conducted by the electronic and the print media.
A three-Judge Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan and Justices R.V.Raveendran and J.M.Panchal, posted the petition filed by D.K.Thakur for final hearing to March after counsel for the Election Commission and others pleaded for expeditious hearing of the case.
The Commission had earlier told the court that television channels were showing ‘insta polls’ (giving exit poll results even as polling is on), violating all norms. It wanted the court to frame proper guidelines for the exit/insta polls.
The Centre said that at present there was no law to prohibit the publication of such polls on the basis of the reasoning that it unduly influenced the voter’s mind.
Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution provided for freedom of speech and expression, “which embraces within its scope the freedom of propagation, inter change of ideas and dissemination of information, which would help formation of one’s opinion and viewpoint ad debates on matters encompassing public concern.”
The Press Council of India said it had laid down certain guidelines for conduct of exit/opinion poll by the media, viz exit polls could be permitted only after all phases of elections. But the media was not following the guidelines.
The petitioner submitted that the telecast or publication of opinion/exit polls had deleterious effect and influenced the electors when they were in the mental process of making up their minds to vote or not to vote for a certain political party or a candidate.
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