Free Press Journal

Norms on pre-poll suvery can be made by the state alone: HC


Kochi: The Kerala High Court today declined to entertain a plea seeking action against some TV channels for telecasting pre-poll surveys conducted allegedly on the basis of religion and community in the poll-bound state.

Considering a petition by M K Moideen Kutty of Malappuram and others in this regard, Justice A M Mohammed Mushtaq said “the freedom of the press cannot be curbed.”

In its reponse, the Election Commission told the court that it had no power to take action against TV channels for violation of law/norms in telecast of the result of the pre-poll survey.

Considering this, the Judge said the court cannot issue any directions to the Election Commission as prayed by the petitioners.

The court also said this amounted to freedom of expression and any norms or restriction can only be made by the state.

The petitioners said they were aggrieved by “communalisation” of opinion poll results telecast with an “ulterior motive” of shaping public opinion leading to communal mobilisation of voters. They sought a direction to declare as unconstitutional pre-election survey on the basis of religion and community by the media in the state which is going to assembly polls on May 16.

Appearing for the media, senior lawyer V V Nandagopal Nambiar submitted that the opinion poll was done taking views of all sections, including professionals, youth and women.

He argued that any restriction would affect the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The media was discharging its social obligation towards the public, he submitted.