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Report No. 255

(iv) Issue of robustness in findings

8.11.1. Statistically, opinion polls are often presented as point estimation, pinpointing a fixed number of seats won by a party.353 However, these polls are actually representing estimation with a given degree of error.354 Essentially, they represent interval estimation, a range of seats for every political party, and not the exact number of seats that a party would win.

This important fact is generally not made known to the voters. Having knowledge of the fact of the margin of error in the findings of opinion polls would make for more informed voters. While the findings of opinion polls in India are largely considered to be fallible, psephologists believe that crucial factors such as choosing the optimum sample size, sample design and the representativeness of the sample can ensure some level of accuracy.355

353. Bibek Debroy, 'Banning Opinion Polls', Economic Times, 6th November 2013

354. Id.

355. Praveen Rai, supra note 319

8.11.2. It has been argued that a few instances of manipulation, in whatever manner they exist, do not make a case for an outright ban. Instead, they call for better regulation of opinion polls, in a manner that will be recommended in Part 6. As mentioned earlier as well, a total prohibition on publication and dissemination of results of opinion polls may amount to an infringement of the right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

An analysis of the manner in which opinion polls are statutorily regulated in other jurisdictions can provide some insights into how suitable amendments can be made to the RP Act, 1951 to regulate the same in India.

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