Millennium Post

Opinion polls to stay, EC passes the buck to govt again

The poll panel instead wants the government to come out with its legislation on the issue.

Days after the law ministry made EC the suggestion that it can restrict opinion polls using its powers under Article 324, the commission reverted to the government stressing that bringing in a law would be a better idea. The poll panel feels that restricting opinion polls under Article 324 may not be ‘legally sustainable’. It told the ministry that since exit polls were also restricted by law, it should follow similar procedure on opinion polls as well.

EC had proposed that there should be a prohibition on publication and broadcast of the results of opinion polls starting from the date of notification of elections till the completion of the last phase of polls to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. Existing law allows EC to ban opinion polls just 48 hours prior to voting.

Earlier this year, the attorney general G Vahanvati had backed EC’s proposal to altogether ban publication and broadcast of opinion polls between announcement of election schedule and final phase of polling. He had also pointed out that the amendments incorporating restrictions in relation to exit polls have been in force for over three years ‘and there does not appear to be a challenge to this.’

The government, however, seems to be in no hurry to take a call on the issue. It has referred the matter to the law commission which is already examining the broader issue of electoral reforms. The ministry had told the EC that since a law at this stage was not possible, it should use powers vested to it under Article 324 to restrict opinion polls.

‘The law commission is already examining the issue of electoral reforms. Opinion polls are part of larger issue of electoral reforms. Therefore, the matter has been referred to it. As it is we cannot bring a law in the middle of elections,’ said a senior government functionary.
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