New Delhi: The Election Commission on Thursday plugged the loophole some TV channels have been using to bypass the ban on exit polls and predict poll outcomes.
In an advisory, the EC said that all forecast of poll results — whether done by political analysts, or by astrologers and tarot card readers — is banned during the poll process, and asked the media not to telecast or publish any programme where polls results are predicted.
This means that even astrologers and tarot card readers cannot provide any prediction on polls for 48 hours after the last vote has been cast.
“The commission is of the view that the prediction of election results in any form or manner by way of prediction of results by astrologers, tarot readers, political analysts put forward during the prohibited period will influence voters,” the commission said.
In lieu of exit polls — banned by the EC — several news channels featured astrologers and tarot card readers predictions who will win the recently-conducted Assembly elections.
The commission asked the media to refrain from airing and publishing such programmes in future elections.
The poll watchdog said that Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act states that “no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print and electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Election Commission...”
It said that some TV channels telecast certain programmes projecting the number of seats likely to be won by political parties during the period in which exit polls were prohibited.
On one of the channels, in fact, the panelists on the show, who were from different fields, had put forward the projected number of seats likely to be won by different parties in Uttar Pradesh.
The advisory was sent to the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association.