The prediction of election results by astrologers and tarot readers in the period when there is a ban on broadcasting exit polls is a violation of law, the Election Commission has ruled today. It asked the media, both electronic and print, to “refrain” from airing and publishing such programmes in future elections during the prohibited period to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
In an advisory sent to the media organisation, the poll watchdog pointed to Section 126 A of the Representation of the People Act which states that “no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print and electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Election Commission…”
During the elections to the assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, the period during which exit polls were banned was 7.00 am on February 4, when the first phase of elections commenced till 5.30 pm March 9 when the last of the polls were held. “…it has been observed that some of the TV channels telecast certain programmes projecting the number of seats likely to be won by political parties. This was done during the period exit polls were prohibited…,” the advisory said.
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It pointed out that in one of the channels, the panelists on the show, who were persons from different fields, had put forward the projected number of seats likely to be won by different parties in Uttar Pradesh. “The Commission is of the view that prediction of result of elections in any form or manner by way of predictions by astrologers, tarot readers, political analysts or by any person during the prohibited period is violation of the spirit of Section 126A…” the Commission said.
The strongly-worded advisory, also sent to the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association, said “such attempts merely to score brownie points against the competitors for merely commercial reasons do not behove well.”