A common misconception exists that electoral candidates have absolute freedom over the content of their speeches. The election season in India has candidates across political parties, making passionate speeches to convince the voters to choose them over their rivals. The speeches range from issues of progress, living standards and at times race, religion, caste etc.
However following are the laws that govern electoral speeches in India :
1. Exercising Undue Influence [Section 123(2)]
2. Appeal to vote on grounds of race, religion, caste, language etc. [Section 123(3)]
3. Promote/Attempt to promote feeling of enmity or hatred between classes of citizens [Section 123(3A)]
4. Publication of a statement which is false [Section 123(4)]
5. Propagation of the practice of Sati [Section 123(3B)]
A complaint regarding a commission of the above offences can be filed by a fellow candidate or the voters/electors. The complaint has to be filed within 45 days of election, not earlier than the date of the election i.e. after the election. As per the Act, the complaint has to be filed in the form of an Election Petition before the High Court