EC had ordered FIRs against Hindi daily, agency over 'exit polls'
Image credit: Facebook/Shashank Shekhar Tripathi
Jagran.com editor Shekhar Tripathi was arrested late Monday night by the Uttar Pradesh police for publishing an exit poll after the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections allegedly in violation of the law operational during polls. The Election Commission has said that such publication of an opinion poll when a state was in the midst of five phase polls, was in violation of its guidelines asking news organisations not to carry/publish any exit/opinion poll during the election period.
PTI also reports that the Uttar Pradesh Police also raided the homes of Sukirti Gupta (CEO of Jagran New Media), Varun Sharma (Dy Editor, Jagran English Online) and Puja Sethi, Digital Head.
The Election Commission had, on Monday, ordered the filing of FIRs against the management and editor-in-chief of Dainik Jagran for alleged violation of its guidelines. The Election Commission had, on Monday, ordered the filing of FIRs against the management and editor-in-chief of Dainik Jagran for alleged violation of its guidelines.
In a statement, the newspaper said, “It may be clarified that except for the digital English platform no news item attributing to exit poll was published in Dainik Jagran newspaper.”
“On the English website a news was inadvertently published mentioning about an exit poll. However, the mistake was self corrected and the news report was immediately removed when the report was noticed by senior officials of the group.
“We clarify that we fully comply with the directions which has been issued by Election Commission of India and are in the process of filing a detailed fact-based response with the ECI clarifying the position,” it said.
Late on Monday evening, the Election Commission (EC) on Monday ordered lodging of FIRs against a Hindi daily and an agency in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh in connection with the illegal publication of the poll .
Taking a serious view of the violation of its directions, the EC shot off a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh in which it reminded the CEO that the "offence under Section 126A is punishable by imprisonment for a term up to 2 years or with fine or both."
The EC said that it has been brought to its notice that "the Dainik Jagran newspaper has published result of exit polls conducted by a company by the name of Resource Development International (I) Pvt Ltd on the first phase of elections in UP, through their website."
The poll watchdog pointed out that Section 126A(1) of Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides that no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of print or electronic media, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Commission.
As per the Commission's directions, exit polls cannot be conducted and publicised by means of print and electronic media or dissemination in any other manner starting from February 4, 2017 at 7am to March 8, 2017 at 5.30 pm.
The reported violation by the Resource Development International (I) Pvt Ltd and Dainik Jagran by conducting the exit poll and dissemination of its results amounts to offence under Sections 126A and 126B of RP Act, 1951, the EC said. Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code relates to disobeying orders of an authority will also be used, it said.
"The Commission has directed that the district election officers of each of the districts covered under the first phase of poll shall immediately file FIR 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 IPC read with Section 126A and 126B of RP Act, 1951," the letter said.
73 constituencies in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh went for assembly polls in phase one on February 11 .
A spokesperson of the Commission said an FIR will also be lodged by district election officer of Lucknow for the violation.
Congress welcomed the move by EC. "The EC has taken suo motu cognisance and has directed action and registration of a case. We welcome that," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
He also said the "basic question" is that under what threat are the owners of the Indian media that they are ready to do such a thing.
"This is not just a question of an exit poll, but is a matter of concern that despite knowledge of the law and EC rules a newspaper still publishes exit polls. This calls for concern and introspection," he said.
Asked about the role of Priyanka Gandhi in campaigning for the party candidates in UP, he did not give a direct reply, saying the party leadership in-charge of the state would speak better about this.
To another question on registration of a case against SP MLA for murder of a rape victim, Tewari said the law will take its own course independently.