The Election Commission has ordered lodging of FIRs against a Hindi daily and an agency in 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh in connection with publication of “exit polls” in violation of its directions.
Taking a serious view of the violation of its directions, the EC shot off a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh in which it reminded the CEO that the “offence under Section 126A is punishable by imprisonment for a term upto 2 years or with fine or both.”
The EC said that it has been brought to its notice that “the Dainik Jagran newspaper has published result of exit polls conducted by a company by the name of Resource Development International (I) Pvt Ltd on the first phase of elections in UP, through their website.”
The poll watchdog pointed out that Section 126A(1) of Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides that no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of print or electronic media, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Commission.
As per the Commission’s directions, exit polls cannot be conducted and publicised by means of print and electronic media or dissemination in any other manner starting from February 4, 2017 at 7 AM to March 8, 2017 at 5.30 PM.
The reported violation by the Resource Development International (I) Pvt Ltd and Dainik Jagran by conducting the exit poll and dissemination of its results amounts to offence under Sections 126A and 126B of RP Act, 1951, the EC said. Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code relates to disobeying orders of an authority will also be used, it said.
“The Commission has directed that the district election officers of each of the districts covered under the first phase of poll shall immediately file FIR against the Managing Director and/or such other authorities of RDI and Dainik Jagran including the Managing Editor/Editor in Chief/Editor/Chief Editor of the newspaper under Section 188 of IPC read with Section 126A and 126B of RP Act, 1951,” the letter said.
73 constituencies in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh went for assembly polls in phase one on February 11.
A spokesperson of the Commission said an FIR will also be lodged by district election officer of Lucknow for the violation.
The CEO has been asked to comply with the Commission’s directions by 6 pm today.