Poll panel orders FIR against Dainik Jagran over exit poll

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday issued orders to election officers of 15 Uttar Pradesh districts, in which the first phase of assembly elections was held on 11 February, to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) against the managing director of Resource Development International and the chief editor of Hindi daily Dainik Jagran on charges of conducting and publishing an exit poll.

The cases will be registered under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), read with Section 126A and B of the Representation of the People Act, which attracts up to two years' imprisonment.

As Section 188 is a cognizable offence, no court order is required to make arrests, said an Election Commission official.

The Commission said Section 126A (1) of the Representation of the People Act provides that no person would conduct any exit poll or publish or publicise by means of print or electronic media or in any other manner the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Commission.

The Election Commission on 27 January notified the period during which conducting or disseminating results of an exit poll would be prohibited during the current elections, from 4 February to 8 March.

The newspaper published the "public feedback" on the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections for 73 assembly constituencies held on 11 February, showing that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was projected to bag the most seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) stood second, while the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine stood third in the "public feedback" survey.