The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice Ramesh Sinha while hearing a PIL filed by an advocate Syed Mohd Fazal who had prayed for directions being issued to the Election Commission (EC) as well as concerned officials in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that the restriction on publication and dissemination of results of opinion polls and exit polls was not violated.
The petitioner, who had filed the PIL two days ago, today alleged before the court when the matter came up for hearing that news channels Sahara Samay and Star News have been broadcasting results of exit polls despite an EC order dated January 12, 2012, whereby all channels and newspapers had been restrained from disseminating opinion poll and exit poll results till the seven-phase voting was over in the state.
The court also sought counter-affidavits from the EC and the state's Chief Secretary on the PIL in which it has been contended that violation of the restrictions, which the EC has imposed under the Representation of Peoples Act, "is a criminal act and suitable action should be taken against those who are responsible for a breach".
The PIL has further submitted that the restrictions imposed by the EC were "in the wider interest of free and fair elections and opinion polls often tend to cause prejudicial effect on the minds of voters". The court has fixed February 29 as the next date of hearing in the matter.