UP elections: Police arrest Jagran.com editor Shekhar Tripathi for publishing exit poll
The Election Commission had ordered 15 cases against the daily for releasing the survey, which projected the BJP as the front-runner in UP’s elections.
by Scroll Staff
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday arrested Jagran.com editor Shekhar Tripathi [pictured above] for publishing an an apparent exit poll that showed the Bharatiya Janata Party as the front-runner for the first phase of the elections. State police teams also raided the homes of Jagran New Media Chief Executive Officer Sukriti Gupta, Jagran English Online Deputy Editor Varun Sharma and Digital Head Puja Sethi, The Indian Express reported.
On Monday, the Dainik Jagran had issued a clarification about publishing the exit poll, saying it was inadvertently put out on its English-language website and that it had been removed. In a statement, the newspaper said it was also in the process of filing a “detailed fact-based response” with the Election Commission regarding the survey, Hindustan Times reported.
“We clarify that we fully comply with the directions which has been issued by the Election Commission of India,” the daily said. Jagran Group Chief Executive Officer and Dainik Jagran editor Sanjay Gupta said the exit poll did not appear in the newspaper. “It was carried by the advertising department on our website. We have removed it now,” he said.
Gupta’s remarks came before the Election Commission ordered District Election Officers in 15 UP districts to file criminal cases against the editors of Jagran for the exit poll they had published. The survey, released on Saturday evening, projected the BJP as the front-runner in the elections after interviewing 5,700 voters across 38 Assembly seats. The poll placed the Bahujan Samaj Party in second place, and the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in third.
The Commission also ordered cases to be filed against Resource Development International (I) Private Limited, the agency which conducted the survey. “It [the poll] is in clear violation of Section 126 A and B of the Representation of the People Act and wilful disobedience of lawful directions of the commission under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code,” a Commission spokesperson had said. “Reports have been sought from the the UP Chief Electoral Officer urgently.”
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UP election exit poll case: Jagran dot com editor Shekhar Tripathi arrestedindia Updated: Feb 14, 2017
The arrest was made after the Election Commission (EC) on Monday directed poll officers of 15 districts of the state to book editorial heads of the media group for publishing the exit poll, police said.
The districts went to poll on Saturday.
Ghaziabad superintendent of police (city) Salmantaj Patil said Tripathi was called for questioning on Monday night and was later arrested.
An FIR was lodged under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 126A and 126B of the Representation of the People Act against the managing-editor/editor-in-chief of the publication.
The managing director of Resource Development International (I) Private Limited (RDI), a management consulting firm, is also named an accused in the FIR.
In the case of Jagran dot com, the EC noted that it allegedly quoted an RDI exit poll that put the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lead at the end of the first phase of elections in the state.
Taking serious note of the violation, the EC directed Uttar Pradesh election officer to get FIRs registered against the accused in 15 districts of Shamli, Muzaffar Nagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Firozabad, Etah and Kasganj.
The offence under the section 126A of the Act is punishable by imprisonment for a term up to two years or with fine or both. The other, section 126B, provides that if offence is committed by a company, every person who is in charge of and is responsible for conduct of business of the company shall be held guilty of the offence and face punishment.
Dainik Jagran on Monday said that its report on exit polls was inadvertently published on its English website and was immediately removed.
“We clarify that we will fully comply with the directive which has been issued by the Election Commission of India and are in the process of filing a detailed fact-based response with the ECI clarifying the position,” it had said.
Media houses are barred from publishing or broadcasting exit polls so that the results do not influence voters.
“As part of the investigation, we are now trying to access the URL of the pages of their website on which the report was published. We are also trying to find out in whose name the domain is registered,” said Hemant Rai, station house officer of Kavi Nagar police station.