The Election Commission has put a ban on conducting and publicising of exit polls in the five election-bound states between 7 am on February 10 and 6.30 pm on March 7, ANI reported on Saturday.

Violation of the directive could lead to two years of imprisonment, the Election Commission said in a notification dated January 28.

“No person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicize by means of print or any other manner, the result of any exit poll,” the notification stated. The ban has been imposed under Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will go to polls in seven phases between February 10 and March 7. The results will be announced on March 10.

During the last Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, the police had arrested the editor of, a website of the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, for publishing an exit poll after the first phase of voting. The website had showed the Bharatiya Janata Party as the front-runner in the seats that had polled in the first round.

On January 23, the Samajwadi Party had written to the Election Commission requesting it to put a ban on telecast of opinion polls on news channels. The party’s leader Akhilesh Yadav has described opinion polls as “opium polls”, suggesting that they could mislead voters.