In the period of 48 hours (2 days) before voting day, all election related campaigning stops – it is called the silence period. This applies to both State and General (for example, Lok Sabha) elections.
No one – citizens, journalists, candidates, election agents, movie actors, theatre artists, etc. – is allowed to do any election related campaigning.
The following is not allowed 48 hours before polling:
If anyone, including candidates and political parties, violates any of these provisions and campaigns within the silence period, they will be punished with jail time of up to 2 years and/or fine.
The law prohibits any public meetings which discuss elections through :
- Musical concerts
- Theatrical performances
- Other forms of entertainment
No person can convene or hold, attend or join or address any public meetings which are in connection with elections 48 hours before the date of polling.
- A candidate cannot gather a group of people and advocate them to vote for him on the day of polling.
- A theater group cannot host a play on the achievements of a political party on the day of polling.
If any person or candidate holds any form of public meeting, then this person will be punished with jail time up to 2 years and/or a fine.
Advertisements or sponsored programmes or reports which support or criticize a candidate with an intention to influence the election cannot be broadcasted on the television or the radio. If general events relating to a political party are broadcasted which does not influence the public in any manner then it can be broadcasted via TV or the radio.
For example, if the television broadcasts a political leader insulting another candidate, then, such content will be taken down by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC).
Live Coverage on Electronic Media Outside Constituency
Due to the advancement in technology and development of different modes of electronic media, it is difficult to monitor all regions of a particular State conducting polls. At times, there might be a political event being conducted outside the constituency going to poll, which is being covered live on electronic media. In such situations, the live coverage will not be illegal if it only covers general discussion and not those relating to the specific constituency or specific candidate about to go to poll (in the 48 hour period).
If any such live coverage on electronic media does take place, the candidate or party leader conducting the event will get the same punishment as they would have, had the event taken place within the constituency itself, i.e. jail time of 2 years and/or fine.
There is a ban on liquor 48 hours before elections. The day(s) on which a constituency observes a silent period is a dry day. The law requires all liquor shops to be closed 48 hours before the date of polling to prevent consumption, distribution of alcohol and bribing of voters. States are responsible for making sure that the liquor shops around neighbouring constituencies are also closed.
Conducting conferences and interviews 48 hours before elections is forbidden. During the 48 hours before polling, candidates and political parties should not address the media on election matters by press conferences and interviews.
There is a ban on loudspeakers during the silence period – 48 hours prior to the date of polling.
They cannot be fitted on any vehicles, buildings, etc., and if anyone does this, it is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). After the 48 hours are over, proper permissions from the District Administration have to be taken to use them again.