Election Commission and Opinion Polls

Lok Sabha Election 2014 News and updates

The EC on Opinion Polls
It will be recalled that the Election Commission of India had, at one time, 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 to the completion of the last phase of polls to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. However, on Sunday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath said that the Election Commission (EC) cannot ban broadcast and publication of opinion polls. This is somewhat surprising, to say the least, not only in view of its earlier statement but also in the context of the Law Ministry having suggested a few days ago that the EC could restrict such opinion polls using its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution. Article 324 gives the Election Commission power of superintendence, direction and control of conducting the elections. The Law Ministry was of the opinion that the Election Commission could restrict opinion polls using the fairly comprehensive powers vested in it under Article 324. One cannot help wondering whether the Election Commission developed cold feet after its earlier proposal that there should be a ban on opinion polls. In Sunday’s statement the Election Commission took the stand that regardless of the powers given to it under Article 324, it was restrained by the provisions of Article 77. Article 77 of the Constitution stipulates that all executive actions of the Centre are taken in the name of the President. “Because of it, our considered view is (that) since Parliament has already applied its mind, we would not be in a position to ban opinion polls under Article 324,” the Chief Election Commissioner said. His present stand is that since Parliament approved the banning of exit polls and “did not consider banning opinion polls” it would not be proper for the EC to ban opinion polls. The CEC now feels that since Parliament legislated to ban exit polls, it should take similar action in respect of opinion polls instead of leaving it to the EC to do so under the provisions of Article 324. So someone’s cold feet could, after all, lead to our democratic rights being left intact. Long live opinion polls!
Source: The Sentinel (News Paper dated 02.07.2014)