Jaitley critical of EC, says banning opinion polls 'unconstitutional'

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 04, 2013 18:40 hrs

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Monday launched a frontal attack on the Election Commission (EC) for proposing to restrict opinion polls, and said that opinion polls are a part of free speech, which is a guaranteed fundamental right.

"This is a proposal that has come from the Election Commission (EC). There is always a rationale under which polls are conducted. This issue has to be decided by the market place of democracy, which is public opinion," he said.

"This is also an issue of constitutionality. Free speech is a guaranteed Fundamental right. Opinion polls are a part of that free speech right. You can't have any reasonable restriction on free speech. Certainly inaccuracy of an opinion poll is not one of the conditions mentioned in Article 19 (2) that you think in terms of banning them. We are going to tell the Election Commission that you can't do it," he added.

He further asked why the poll body proposed a ban only when the reports are not in favour of the Congress Party.

"Opinion polls have been on for the past 30 years in this country. How does the Election Commission step in and say we want to ban opinion polls? Why is it that the Election Commission has considered this proposal of banning opinion polls only when every opinion poll is indicating reports, which are adverse to the Congress Party?" he questioned.

Jaitley also said a large number of agencies of international repute carry out opinion polls, which are credible, and asked whether there would be a ban on opinions of political commentators as well.

"A large number of agencies, which are agencies of international repute, carry on opinion polls. There is some margin of error, but it's those opinion polls, done by credible organizations, which carry credibility, why must they be banned? Today if you say opinion polls are going to be banned, are you going to ban opinions of political commentators?" he questioned.

The Congress Party has written to the Election Commission (EC) to restrict opinion polls ahead of the elections.

The legal department of the Congress Party stated that opinion polls can be misused, and they are not scientific or credible.

The Congress, however, shifted from its earlier stand, where it dismissed the proposal of the Election Commission to ban opinion polls.

The opinion polls have been projecting poor show of the Congress in some states where Assembly Elections are scheduled to take place. (ANI)

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