The Election Commission today banned exit polls between April 4 and May 16 when Assembly elections are held in five states. Citing provisions of electoral laws, EC said, "Exit polls cannot be conducted and publicised by means of print and electronic media or dissemination in any other manner starting from April 4 at 7 AM to May 16 at 6.30 PM."
The election timings for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are between 7 AM and 6 PM. The timings for West Bengal and Assam would be a little different depending on the topography of the constituency and the security situation.
The Commission also said that display of "any election matter" including results of any opinion poll or any other poll survey in "any electronic media" is "prohibited during the period 48 hours, including the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in each of the phases in connection with the elections."
Using powers under the Representation of People Act, 1951, EC bans exit polls from the time the poll begins till half-an-hour after the polling ends. The poll panel had proposed that there should be a prohibition on publication and broadcast of the results of opinion polls starting from the date of notification of elections till the completion of the last phase of polls to Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. The proposal is pending with the government. Existing law allows EC to ban opinion polls 48 hours prior to voting.