Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday issued strict directives regarding use of children in any election-related activities. Political parties have also been advised not to use children in election campaigns in any form whatsoever including distribution of posters/pamphlets or to participate in slogan shouting, campaign rallies, election meetings, etc. The Commission has conveyed ‘Zero Tolerance’ towards use of children in any manner during the electoral process by parties and candidates.
Separately, the commission has also directed all election officials and poll machinery to refrain from involving children in any capacity during election-related work or activities. District election officers and returning officers will “bear personal responsibility” to ensure compliance with all relevant acts and laws pertaining to child labour.
“Any violation of these provisions by election machinery under their jurisdiction will result in severe disciplinary action,” it warned. Political leaders and candidates should not use children for campaign activities in any manner, including for holding a child in their arms, carrying a child in a vehicle or in rallies, the poll watchdog said.
“This prohibition extends to the use of children to create the semblance of a political campaign in any manner including use through poem, songs, spoken words, display of insignia of political party or candidate…,” EC said in a statement.
However, the mere presence of a child accompanied by their parent or guardian in proximity of a political leader who is not involved in any election campaigning activity by the political party, will not be construed as a violation of the guidelines, it noted.