Bombay HC At Goa Refuses To Grant Protection To Channel From Telecasting Exit Poll As EC Justifies Ban [Read Order]

The division bench of Justices FM Reis and Nutan Sardessai of the Bombay High Court at Goa refused to grant ad-interim protection to Sociedade De Fomento Industrial Pvt. Ltd, a media house belonging to Goa’s Timblo group from telecasting an exit poll conducted by them.

The petitioners who own a local cable news channel called Prudent Media had filed a writ petition challenging the guidelines of the Election Commission for conducting exit polls on February 4, the day of polling.

SR Rivonkar appeared for the Election Commission in the matter. He took instructions from Narayan Navti, Additional Chief Electoral officer, who was present in court at the time of the hearing on February 3. Navti said that “no exit polls would be conducted in terms of the Notification dated 31st January, 2017 in the States mentioned therein during the period as specified in the said Notification.”

However, appearing for the petitioners Senior Counsel SS Kantak argued that the EC’s stand was contrary to the provisions of Section 126A of the Act, as well as the Notification dated 31st January, 2017. He further argued that guidelines which were issued by the Election Commission of India only prohibit the publication and dissemination of the results of the exit polls and that exit polls were conducted during the previous elections as well.

The bench observed that “prima facie, the arguments advanced by counsel appearing for the petitioners are well founded and require consideration after reply[of the Election Commission] is filed.”

But in light of the stand taken by the Election Commission, the bench refused to grant ad-interim protection to the petitioners from conducting the exit poll. The interpretation of ECs notification will be dealt with when the matter is heard further.

EC will be filing a detailed reply in the matter before February 20.

Read the order here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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