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'Zero tolerance towards use of children': EC issues directive to political parties ahead of polls

The Election Commission of India has issued a stern directive to political parties, urging them to abstain from involving children in any campaign-related activities. The directive encompasses parties, candidates, and the entire election machinery, emphasizing the need to uphold ethical standards during political campaigns.

Zero tolerance towards use of children Election Commission issues directive to political parties ahead of 2024 polls gcw
First Published Feb 5, 2024, 1:59 PM IST

The Election Commission of India on Monday conveyed ‘zero tolerance’ towards the use of children by political parties in any campaign related work or activities. The governing body issued directives to political parties, candidates and election machinery. "Political parties and candidates should refrain from using children in political campaigns and rallies in a manner," the Election Commission stated in a statement.

According to the central agency, this is an extension of its previous guidelines about the parties' and candidates' lowering levels of campaign talk. Additionally, EC requested that "respectful discourse" be maintained with regard to people with disabilities (PwDs).

The Election Commission stated that political parties should not utilise minors "in any form whatsoever," including while distributing posters and leaflets, participating in slogan shouting, holding electoral meetings, or attending rallies.

It has been "explicitly directed" to all political parties that they are not to include minors in any kind of election work, campaign, or activity. Political leaders and candidates are also prohibited from holding a kid in their arms or transporting one in their rally vehicle during election campaigns or rallies.

According to EC, the ban also includes using kids in any other way that seems to be a political campaign. "Poems, songs, spoken words, display of political party/candidate insignia, exhibiting political party ideology, promoting achievements of the party or criticising the opposing candidates or their parties" are among these means.

The Bombay High Court's ruling in PIL, Chetan Ramlal Bhutada Vs. State of Maharashtra & Others, which underlined the necessity for political parties to make sure that no minor is permitted to engage in any election-related activities, was also referenced in the EC's orders.

The central agency’s statement further noted that the District Election Officers and Returning Officers will be personally liable for ensuring compliance with all the relevant laws and acts regarding Child Labour.

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