In a bid to uphold ethical standards in election campaigns and ensure the dignity and rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), the Election Commission of India (ECI) has reinforced its stance on the prohibition of children’s participation in electoral activities. The commission has issued stern directives to political parties, emphasizing a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy towards the use of children in any form during the electoral process.
The following key points have been highlighted in the directives:
Prohibition of Child Participation: Political parties are explicitly instructed not to involve children in any aspect of election campaigning, including rallies, slogan shouting, distribution of campaign materials such as posters or pamphlets, or any other related activities. Leaders and candidates are strictly prohibited from using children for campaign purposes, including holding or carrying them during events or rallies.
Extent of Prohibition: The ban extends to any attempts to use children to simulate a political campaign, such as through poems, songs, spoken words, or the display of political party symbols or ideologies. Using children to promote party achievements or criticize opponents is also strictly forbidden.
Legal Compliance: Political parties and candidates are mandated to adhere to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, as amended by the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016. The directives also underscore a ruling by the Honorable Bombay High Court, emphasizing the prohibition of minor children’s participation in election-related activities.
However, the presence of a child accompanied by their parent or guardian, who is not engaged in any campaign activity, will not be considered a violation of the guidelines.
The Commission has unequivocally instructed all election officials and machinery to abstain from involving children in any capacity during election-related work. District Election Officers and Returning Officers are tasked with ensuring strict compliance with relevant laws concerning child labor. Any breach of these provisions by election officials will be met with severe disciplinary action.
The ECI’s firm stance reflects its commitment to maintaining the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, safeguarding the rights of children, and fostering a culture of responsible campaigning among political parties and candidates.