The Election Commission has barred parties, candidates and others from publishing political advertisements on polling day and a day prior to it the three phases of the Bihar polls unless their contents are pre-certified by screening committees. The same restriction will apply to the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha bypoll in Bihar to be held on November 7.
The Commission has used its constitutional powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to take the decision. The EC had taken such a decision for the first time in the 2015 Bihar polls. Its proposal to ban political advertisements on election day and a day before has been pending with the law ministry for a few years.
In a letter to Bihar’s chief electoral officer on Monday, the poll panel said instances of advertisements of offending and misleading nature published in the print media have been brought to its notice in the past. “Such advertisements in the last stage of the election vitiate the entire election process. The affected candidates and parties will not have any opportunity of providing clarification/rebuttal in such a scenario,” it said.
To ensure that no untoward incident takes place because of any inflammatory or hate advertisements, it is using its constitutional powers to direct that “no political party or candidate or any other organisation or person” will publish any advertisement in the print media on the day and one day prior to poll day in all the phases, unless the contents are pre-certified by screening committees, the letter stated.
As of now, only the electronic media is barred from showing election publicity material during the last 48 hours before conclusion of polling. In 2016, the EC had urged the government to amend the electoral law to bar political advertisements in newspapers 48 hours before the day of polling on the lines of the restrictions on electronic media.
The move had come in the wake of the poll panel using its constitutional powers to ban such newspaper advertisements on a case-by-case basis during the Bihar assembly election in October-November of 2015.
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