The Uttar Pradesh Police detained Dainik Jagran online editor Shekhar Tripathi late on Monday night for publishing an exit poll after the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in favor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Notably, the model code of conduct ban declaration of exit polls before the conclusion of all phases of polling.
The Election Commission (EC) earlier directed electoral officers in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh to file FIRs against the editorial leadership of Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran for publishing an exit poll.
The FIRs was also filed against the management of Resource Development International (I) – the agency that conducted the exit poll. Dainik Jagran is the country’s most-read newspaper.
In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh chief electoral Officer, the poll watchdog said that the conduct of the exit poll and its distribution through Dainik Jagran’s website was a violation of tenets of Representation of People’s Act (RPA) along with those of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
As per a report in Livemint, a senior editor at Dainik Jagran claimed the exit polls were not issued in any of the print editions of the newspaper and some representatives of the newspaper met with the Lucknow officials of the EC to clarify their position.
However, an official from the EC said, the “conduct and dissemination” of the exit polls itself is a crime and covers all print and electronic media. The violation of this section of RPA is punishable by imprisonment for a term up to 2 years or with fine or both.
Significantly, the EC had issued a notification on January 27, stating that exit polls were banned between 4 February and 8 March, the last date of voting.