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Report No. 255

(v) Amendments to RPA, 195.- Insertion of Sections 126A and 126B

8.5.1. While duly considering the opinion of the Attorney General, the ECI pointed out that guidelines issued by it in 1998 regulating the publication and dissemination of opinion polls had to be withdrawn after the Supreme Court's observation that the ECI could not enforce them in law against the media. Consequently, the ECI in its 2004 Proposed Reforms Report reiterated its view that there should be some statutory restriction on publishing the results of opinion polls and exit polls.335

335. ECI 2004 Reforms, supra note 203

8.5.2. This recommendation of the ECI was partially accepted by the Parliament in 2009 when Section 126A was inserted into the RPA.336 The said provision places certain restrictions on the conduct of exit polls and dissemination of their results. Under Section 126A of the RPA, the conduct of exit polls and publishing or publicising by means of print or electronic media or dissemination in any other manner whatsoever, the result of any exit poll has been prohibited during such period as the EC may, by a general order notify in this regard. Significantly, the prohibition on publication of exit polls under Section 126A extends to both print as well as electronic media.

336. Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009

8.5.3. Contravention of Section 126A has been made punishable under Section 126A(3) with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both. Additionally, Section 126B has also been inserted to the RP Act, 1951 for punishment to companies who commit any offence under Section 126A.

If the said offence is committed by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence. However, opinion polls have been kept outside the purview of Sections 126A and 126B.

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