Exit Poll Regulations and Challenges in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha Elections: Legal Framework Delineate  

Exit Poll Regulations and Challenges in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha Elections: Legal Framework Delineate


The Lok Sabha elections in India, often characterized as the world’s largest democratic exercise, garner significant attention both domestically and internationally. The 2024 elections, like their predecessors, are expected to be a highly contentious and closely monitored affair. One of the critical aspects of this electoral process is the role of exit polls. Exit polls, surveys conducted immediately after voters leave polling stations, aim to predict the outcome of the elections before the official results are announced. This article delves into the legal framework governing exit polls in India, the controversies they generate, their impact on public perception, and the regulatory challenges they pose. Exit polls are surveys conducted with voters as they leave a polling station during an election. The purpose is to gather information on how people voted and their demographic characteristics. These polls provide early indications of election results before official results are announced. An exit poll was conducted by the Indian Institute of Public Opinion during the second Lok Sabha elections in 1957. Sampling Methods: The reliability of the sampling methods used in conducting exit polls is crucial. A well-designed and representative sample is more likely to produce accurate results. Some common parameters for a good, or accurate, opinion poll would be a sample size that is both large and diverse, and a clearly constructed questionnaire without an overt bias. Structured Questionnaire Surveys, like exit polls, collect data by interviewing many respondents using a structured questionnaire, either over the phone or in person. According to the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, “Without a structured questionnaire, the data can neither be collected coherently nor be analyzed systematically to arrive at vote share estimates. Demographic Representation Ensuring that the surveyed population is demographically representative of the overall voting population is essential. If certain groups are over or underrepresented, it can impact the accuracy of the predictions. A large sample size is important but what matters most is how well the sample represents the larger population, rather than the size of the sample. Exit polls can be controversial if the agency conducting them is perceived to be biased. These surveys can be influenced by the choice, wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn. Critics argued that many opinion and exit polls are motivated and sponsored by their rivals, and could have a distorting effect on the choices voters make in a protracted election, rather than simply reflecting public sentiment or views.

Legal Framework Governing Exit Polls

The conduct and publication of exit polls in India are regulated by the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI). According to Section 126A of the Act, conducting exit polls and publishing their results is prohibited from the start of polling in the first phase until the conclusion of polling in the last phase of the elections. The law was enacted to ensure that exit poll results do not influence voters in regions where polling is yet to be completed. The ECI’s Model Code of Conduct (MCC) further reinforces these restrictions by outlining the dos and don’ts for political parties and media outlets. The MCC, a set of guidelines designed to ensure free and fair elections, becomes operative from the date the election schedule is announced until the end of the election process. Any violation of these norms, including premature publication of exit poll results, can lead to punitive actions against the offending media house or entity. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the 2024 Lok Sabha exit polls addresses concerns about the potential impact and regulation of exit polls during the election period. The case revolves around the adherence to Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which prohibits the conduct and dissemination of exit poll results until all phases of voting are completed. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), exit polls cannot be published or publicized during the voting period to avoid influencing voters in ongoing or future phases of the election. This restriction is in place from 7:00 AM on the first day of polling (April 19, 2024) until 6:30 PM on the last day of polling (June 1, 2024)​. Violating these regulations can result in penalties, including imprisonment or fines. The PIL contends that exit polls might impact voter behavior and seeks stricter enforcement of the existing regulations. The ECI’s guidelines mandate that media outlets must notify the commission before conducting exit polls and must follow a code of conduct to ensure fair and unbiased reporting​. The case highlights the broader implications of exit polls in shaping public sentiment and potentially affecting the stock market due to perceived election outcomes​. The Supreme Court’s decision on this matter could reinforce or modify the regulatory framework governing exit polls in India.

Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their results by means of print or electronic media during the period mentioned therein, i.e. between the hour fixed for commencement of poll in the first phase and half an hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase in all the States. The Election Commission is responsible for regulating the use of exit polls. According to the ECI, exit polls can only be conducted during a specific period. This period starts from the time when the polling booths close and ends 30 minutes after the last booth has closed. Exit polls cannot be conducted during the voting period or on polling day. The Election Commission issued guidelines under Article 324 of the Constitution, prohibiting newspapers and news channels from publishing results of pre-election surveys and exit polls. The EC also mandated that while carrying the results of exit and opinion polls, newspapers and channels should disclose the sample size of the electorate, the details of polling methodology, the margin of error and the background of the polling agency. The ban on the publication of exit polls remains in place until the last phase of voting is completed. In addition to the ban on the publication of exit polls, the ECI also requires that all media outlets that conduct exit polls must register with the commission. Section 66A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended) makes it a criminal offence ‘to publish, before a poll is closed, any statement about the way in which voters have voted in that election, where this statement is, or might reasonably be taken to be, based on information given by voters after they voted’. It is also an offence under the Act ‘to publish, before a poll is closed, any forecast – including any estimate – of that election result, if the forecast is based on exit poll information from voters, or which might reasonably be taken to be based on it’. These laws apply to both parliamentary and local elections, elections to the Welsh Assembly and by-elections. The Act applies to exit polls focusing on voting in a particular constituency or ward and to voting patterns nationally. The publication of exit polls is also prohibited during voting for European Parliamentary elections.

Controversies Surrounding Exit Polls

Despite the legal restrictions, exit polls remain a subject of significant controversy in Indian elections. Critics argue that these polls can potentially influence voter behaviour and disrupt the level playing field essential for democratic elections. For instance, if exit polls indicate a clear trend towards a particular party, it might discourage supporters of the opposing party from voting, thereby affecting voter turnout and the final election results. Moreover, the accuracy of exit polls is often questioned. Past elections have seen numerous instances where exit polls have significantly deviated from the actual results, leading to debates about their methodological rigor and reliability. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections, for example, witnessed a wide range of predictions, some of which were drastically off the mark compared to the final outcomes.

Impact on Public Perception

Exit polls, while not legally binding, play a crucial role in shaping public perception and media narratives. In the age of 24/7 news cycles and social media proliferation, the results of exit polls can spread rapidly, influencing public discourse. Political parties often use favourable exit poll results to bolster their image and morale, while unfavourable ones are dismissed as flawed or biased. The psychological impact of exit polls on voters cannot be understated. The bandwagon effect, where voters support the perceived winner, and the underdog effect, where voters support the perceived loser, are phenomena that can be triggered by exit poll results. Thus, exit polls can indirectly affect voter behaviour and, consequently, the democratic process.

Regulatory Challenges

Regulating exit polls poses significant challenges. The primary challenge lies in balancing the right to freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, with the need to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. The ban on exit polls during the polling period is a restrictive measure that aims to prevent undue influence on voters, but it also raises questions about censorship and media freedom. Another challenge is the enforcement of these regulations in the digital age. With the advent of social media platforms and instant messaging services, information, including exit poll results, can be disseminated rapidly and widely, often bypassing traditional regulatory mechanisms. Ensuring compliance with exit poll regulations in this environment requires innovative strategies and cooperation from tech companies.

Comparative Perspectives

Looking at other democracies, the approach to regulating exit polls varies. In the United States, there is no federal law prohibiting exit polls, though media organizations often adhere to self-imposed embargoes on releasing results until polling stations close. In the United Kingdom, exit polls are allowed but with strict regulations on their release to avoid influencing voters. Comparative analysis shows that while some countries Favor more stringent regulations to prevent voter influence, others rely on media self-regulation and public trust. The effectiveness of these approaches often depends on the maturity of the democratic institutions and the media landscape in each country. Future Directions as India prepares for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the debate over exit polls is likely to intensify. There are several potential directions for future regulatory frameworks Enhanced Self-Regulation by Media: Encouraging media organizations to adopt stricter self-regulation norms, including voluntary embargoes on exit poll results until all phases of voting are complete. Stronger Enforcement Mechanisms Developing more robust mechanisms to monitor and enforce compliance with exit poll regulations, especially on digital platforms. Public Awareness Campaigns: Conducting campaigns to educate voters about the potential inaccuracies of exit polls and their limitations in predicting actual election outcomes. Technological Solutions: Leveraging technology to track and control the dissemination of exit poll results, possibly through collaborations with social media platforms and tech companies. Review and Revision of Laws: Periodically reviewing and revising the legal framework governing exit polls to address emerging challenges and ensure it remains relevant and effective.


The regulation of exit polls in the context of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections represents a complex interplay between legal mandates, media practices, and democratic principles. While exit polls provide valuable insights and contribute to the vibrancy of democratic discourse, their potential to influence voter behaviour necessitates careful regulation. Striking a balance between freedom of expression and the need to ensure free and fair elections will continue to be a critical challenge for policymakers, media organizations, and the Election Commission of India. As the electoral landscape evolves, so too must the strategies to manage the impact of exit polls, ensuring that the democratic process remains robust and untainted. This survey of the regulatory approaches adopted by various democratic governments to the publication of pre-election opinion and exit polls reveals no set pattern from which general rules can be derived. It is significant that from among the established democracies surveyed, only Italy imposes a ban of more than 24 hours and that there is a clear trend towards shorter bans. Courts in these countries have questioned the assumption implication in bans that voters are uninformed and naïve, as well as the implications of bans of this nature – which prevent the media from disseminating true, factual material – for freedom of expression. These courts have also noted that in the modern world, where access to the Internet and satellite television is becoming ever more commonplace, bans of this sort may no longer be viable. Whether a country’s law satisfies the three-part test for restrictions on freedom of expression does depend to some extent on the particular circumstances of that country. An important factor, in addition to the degree of Internet and satellite television access, is the degree of independence possessed by the national media and the willingness of these media to accept voluntary restrictions on reporting on polls. Were important parts of the national media, including the public media, are controlled by political figures, any risk of bias from opinions polls increases. 

Written by:HariRaghava JP


K’taka High Court Upholds Election Commission’s Decision to deny Free Public Transportation for 2024 MLC Elections.


CASE NUMBER – WP NO. 12711 OF 2024

DATED ON – 16.05.2024

QUORUM – Justice R. Devdas & Justice J.M. Khazi



The petitioner is before this Court seeking a Writ of Mandamus, directing the respondents Chief Electrol Officer, Bengaluru and The Regional Commissioner, Kalaburagi to consider his representation dated 12.03.2024, Annexure-A, and 13.03.2024 at Annexure-B, requesting that the implementation of free bus services to transport the voters on the polling date, and he has also pleaded to enhance the number of polling booths, which has been fixed at 160 for the Election to the post of Member of Legislative Council in the North East Graduate Constituency, 2024.



Whether the Election Commission can be compelled to implement free bus services for voters.

Whether the Election Commission is obligated to consider the petitioner’s representation regarding the enhancement of Polling Booths.



Section 123(5) of The Representation of People Act, 1951, deals with restrictions on providing transportation to voters during elections.



The petitioner was seeking to espouse public cause, in as much requesting the implementation of free bus services to transport the voters on the polling date so that the voters could be facilitated to travel by such free buses and cast their votes, which according to the petitioner would be in the interest of democracy. He has also pleaded to enhance the number of polling booths, which has been fixed at 160 for the Election to the post of Member of Legislative Council in the North East Graduate Constituency, 2024. The Petitioner has prayed to a) Allow this Public Interest Litigation and b) To issue a Writ of Mandamus directing the Respondent Nos. 2 and 3 to consider the representation Dated 13.03.2024 submitted.



The Learned Counsel for the respondents pointed out from the statement of objections that in so far as first prayer made by the petitioner, firstly, such powers cannot be exercised by the Election Commissioner. Secondly, it is pointed out from the express provision contained sub-section (5) of Section 123 of The Representation of People Act 1951, and more particularly, the second proviso of sub-section (5) and submits that neither the candidates nor the State Governments or the Public Transport Corporations can make such provision, since it would go contrary to the express provision. The Learned counsel therefore submits that if such directions are issued either by the State Government or the Head of Department of the Public Transport Corporation, it would violate the express provisions contained in the statute. And the second request made by the petitioner regarding the enhancement of polling booths, the learned counsel for the respondents had drawn attention to Annexure-R3, which was filed along with the statement of objections. He submitted that the polling stations which were earlier fixed at 160 are enhanced to 195 having regard to the number of voters and the information obtained from the respective Deputy Commissioner and, therefore, was of the argument that the prayers made in the writ petition cannot be granted.



The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka viewed an an endorsement dated 19.03.2024 that has been issued by the Regional Commissioner, Kalaburagi, Sub-Division to the petitioner bringing to his notice the prayer made by the petitioner and the arrangements made by the Chief Election Commissioner for the purposes of the impending elections. It had been stated that no such arrangement for plying free buses can be made either by the Chief Election Commissioner or any other Authority, since it would be in violation of the express provision contained in the Act, 1951. The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka was of the considered opinion that the two prayers made by the petitioner having regard to representation given by him have been answered by the respondents in the statement of objections. And also in the Endorsement to the petitioner, they brought to his notice the enhancement of polling booths made from 160 to 195, which would meet the requirements having regard to the number of voters in the constituency. And In that view of the matter, The Hon’ble High Court was satisfied that the respondent Chief Election Commissioner, through the Regional Commissioner has considered the grievance of the petitioner, and had concluded that Writ Petition shall hereby be dismissed.


“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”

Judgement Reviewed by – Gnaneswarran Beemarao

Click here to view full Judgement


Courts cannot entertain a petition once electoral process has begun as it obstructs the process: MP High Court

Case Title : Moti Singh vs Election Commission Of India Through Chief Election Commissioner & Ors.

 Case no : Writ Petition No. 1039 of 2024

 Order no : 3rd May, 2024Moti Singh v. Election Commission of India Through Chief Election Commissioner & Ors.

 Quorum : Hon’ble Justice Sushrut Arvind Dharmadhikari and Hon’ble Justice Gajendra Singh


The Election commission of India on 16/03/2024 announced the General Elections for the House of People. Both the Petitioner and the Respondent filed their nominations before the said date in the prescribed format as required under Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. Indian National Congress declared Respondent No.4 as ‘approved candidate’ and the Appellate as a ‘substitute candidate’

On 29/04/2024 the approved candidate (respondent no.4) withdrew his nomination, following the Appellant submitted a request to declare him as the ‘approved candidate’ of INC. Subsequently the same was declined by the Returning Officer and he was deprived of his Legal right. As stating that it was necessary according to Sec 33(1) of the Representation of Peoples Act the candidate is supposed to submit the nomination with 10 proposers signatures.


  1. Article 226 of the Indian Constitution : Clearly states that every High Court has the powers throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction to issue writ or any order to any person or authority.
  2. Sub-Section (1) of Section 33 of The Representation of People Act , 1951 : A candidate not set up by a recognised political Party shall not be deemed to be duly nominated for election from the constituency unless the nomination paper is subscribed by 10 proposers being elector of the constituency. 
  3. Sub-Section(5) of Section 36 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 : The returning officer shall hold the scrutiny on the date appointed in this behalf under clause (b) of section 30 and shall not allow any adjournment of the proceedings except when such proceedings are interrupted or obstructed by riot or open violence or by causes beyond his control:

Provided that in case an objection is raised by the returning officer or is made by any other person the candidate concerned may be allowed time to rebut it not later than the next day but one following the date fixed for scrutiny, and the returning officer shall record his decision on the date to which the proceedings have been adjourned.


The counsel for the appellant argued that the Learned Judge had overlooked the Provisions of the Representation of the Peoples Act which mentioned that only one single signature was required. The appellant also submitted that according to Section 36(5) of the Act the candidate must be given one day’s time to collect the signatures yet the Returning Officer rejected the appellants claim.

As a result the Appellant claimed that he was entitled to contest in the parliamentary elections.


The Respondent’s counsel requested the court to dismiss the Petition as the High Court cannot entertain a petition under article 226 of the constitution once the electoral process has begun as it would be obstructing the electoral process.


The court after considering the facts and circumstances of the case dismissed the Appeal as to finding force in the contentions put forth by the Learned counsel of the Respondent.

 “PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”