New Delhi: Cracking the whip, the Election Commission on Monday ordered registration of cases against the management and Editor-in-Chief of Hindi daily Dainik Jagran for publishing an exit poll on the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
The EC also ordered an FIR against the management of Resource Development International (RDI) — the company that conducted the exit poll — for violating an EC order that bars publication/broadcast of exit polls till the voting is over in poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand.
The poll panel has directed the District Election Officers of the state’s districts covered under the first phase of elections on February 11 and Lucknow to immediately register cases against the managements of RDI and Dainik Jagran as well as the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with Section 126-A and 126-B of the Representation of People Act.
“It has been brought to the Commission’s notice that Dainik Jagran newspaper has published the result of an exit poll conducted by a company by the name of Resource Development International (I) Pvt. Ltd. on the first phase of elections in UP on their website.
“The reported violation by conducting the exit poll and disseminating its result amounts to offence under Sections 126-A and 126-B of Representation of People Act, 1951, as well as offence under Section 188 of the IPC. The offence also amounts to disobedience to an order duly promulgated by the commission,” the EC said in a letter.
“The commission has decided to take stringent action against the perpetrators of this serious violation of the Act to uphold the law to ensure the smooth conduct of free and fair elections.
“The commission has directed that the District Election Officers of each of the districts covered under the first phase of polls and Lucknow shall immediately file FIRs 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 the IPC read with Section 126-A and 126-B of the Representation of People Act, 1951,” it said.
The offence under Section 126-A is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or fine or both.
Section 126-B provides that if the offence is committed by a company, every person who is in charge of and is responsible for the conduct of the company’s business shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and face punishment, an EC official said.
The Election Commission had on January 27 directed that no exit polls will be conducted between 7 a.m. on February 4 and 5.30 p.m. on March 8 when polling is scheduled in the five states, lest the exit polls influence the voters.
While elections in Goa and Punjab have been conducted on February 4, the seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh will go on till March 8. The counting of votes in all these states will be taken up on March 11.