8 Oct 2008, 0314 hrs IST, Mahendra Kumar Singh,TNN
NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Wednesday is likely to consider a "controversial" proposal moved by the law ministry to ban publishing or telecasting opinion and exit polls during elections. The proposal was to be taken up by the Cabinet on September 4 but was deferred.
The government is of the view that these polls influence the voters and can also be easily "manipulated".
The law ministry's proposal seeks to amend the Representation of People Act of 1951 by inserting section 126 (b), "to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion and exit polls conducted during elections to the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies". According to sources, the move is to put a restriction on opinion and exit polls from the time Election Commission announces polls till the last vote is cast.
The proposal, based on the EC's demand for banning such polls, has the support of all major political parties. All parties had called for a ban on opinion polls ahead of the last general elections and there was consensus that opinion polls should be banned from the day of notification. In the case of exit polls, the parties said results should not be announced till the last vote was polled.
An official pointed out that the proposal was approved by the home ministry and I&B ministry had made a suggestion that new medium of communication like IPTV should also come under the purview of the new legislation.
The EC also wanted a ban on exit polls as it felt these could be manipulated and could have unfair influence on the outcome of the elections. An official said that the proposal, if cleared by the Cabinet, could be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.
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