EC cannot ban opinion polls: Sampath

Ranchi/New Delhi: The Election Commission cannot ban broadcast and publication of opinion polls, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said today, days after the Law Ministry suggested the poll panel that it can restrict such polls using its powers under Article 324.
“As in law where there is a field not covered by any legislation, the Commission can use its power under Article 324. But under Article 77 we cannot do that,” Sampath said at a press conference in Ranchi.
Under Article 77 of the Constitution, all executive actions of the Centre are taken in the name of the President.
“Because of it, our considerate view is since Parliament has already applied its mind, we would not be in a position to ban opinion polls under Article 324,” he said.
Article 324 gives the Election Commission power of superintendence, direction and control of conducting the elections.
Sampath said the government made the legislation in 2009 and Parliament approved banning only exit polls and “did not consider banning opinion polls.”
The Commission has reverted to the government saying that bringing a law would be a better idea.
EC feels that restricting opinion polls under Article 324 may not be “legally sustainable”.
It told the Law Ministry that since exit polls were also restricted by law, it should follow similar procedure on opinion polls.
The poll panel had 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 till the completion of the last phase of polls to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.
Existing law allows EC to ban opinion polls just 48 hours prior to voting.