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EC likely to issue fresh guidelines on exit polls

Fresh guidelines banning publication of exit and opinion polls before the coming Lok Sabha elections are likely to be issued by the Election Commission.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2009 01:40 IST

Fresh guidelines banning publication of exit and opinion polls before the coming Lok Sabha elections are likely to be issued by the Election Commission.

The move comes against the backdrop of the Supreme Court leaving it to the discretion of the EC to decide on laying down guidelines on the opinion and exit polls till the government frames regulation on the issue.

"Now that the court has given its pronouncement, the Commission will consider it. It will be more or less what the Commission did earlier," EC sources said.

The Commission a couple of years ago had banned the telecast, publication or broadcast of exit polls during polls till the final phase of voting but media houses had approached the apex court and got the order revoked.

The Commission had asked the court to decide whether there should be a reasonable restriction in publication and dissemination of results of the opinion polls and exit polls during certain specified periods during the election process.

The Government had in October last decided to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to restrict publication of exit polls during elections till the conclusion of the final phase of voting so that it does not "influence" the voters.

Government's move to amend the RPA is seen as an effort to ensure that polls, which are generally spread over several phases, are free and fair.

Government felt that restriction on telecasting of exit polls will enable the voters to exercise their franchise without being influenced by the projection of telecast after one phase of voting is over and other phases are yet to be completed.

All the major political parties including the Congress, the BJP and the Left were in favour of such a restriction.

The Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 was already pending before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.