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Plea in SC seeking probe against media houses for telecasting exit polls, influencing investors

New Delhi: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an investigation against media houses and their associates/companies for telecasting the exit polls immediately after the conclusion of the final phase of Lok Sabha elections and allegedly influenced the investors who suffered a loss of Rs 31 lakh crore as the share market crashed after the results on June 4.

The plea said the media houses started debating on exit polls immediately after the last phase of the election concluded on June 1 and tried to convince the common investor to invest in the share market till the market opened on June 3 (Monday), which resulted in an unexpected hike in the share market.

It said the share market went high after the exit polls, but when the actual results were announced, it resulted in a crash.

On June 4 counting took place and the share market crashed, resulting in a massive loss of Rs 31 lakh crore for common investors, said advocate BL Jain who filed the plea.

Filing the plea through advocate Varun Thakur, the petition said the Rs 31 lakh crore loss as markets went into a tailspin will affect the overall Indian economy and reputation of India at the global level.

"The telecast of any news/debate/programme must not give any impression of bias or prejudice in favour of or against any political party.

Unfortunately, uncontrolled and un-regulated electronic media has been working as a commercial industry and brings into play by one political party against another political party," the petition stated.

The petitioner said that prediction/exit polls are a complete violation of section 126 A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and guidelines dated April 2, 2024, issued by the Election Commission of India.

It said the government has to strictly protect robust exit polls and debate on matters of public concern.

The petition sought a probe by CBI, ED, CBDT, SEBI, and SFIO against Axis My India, India Today Media Plex, Times Now, Independent News Service Private Ltd. (India TV), ABP News Pvt Ltd., Republic Media Network, News National Network Pvt Ltd., TV9 Bharatvarsh, and NDTV.

"The Parliament of India enacted the Representation of People Act, 1951, for the smooth function of free and fair election and to regulate the election process during the elections. But through exit polls, the media houses in collusion with corporate houses started manipulating election results. This act of the respondents is violating the concept of free and fair election in a democracy and interfering with the rule of law...," the petition stated. 

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