Children Off-limits: ECI’s Campaign Warning

The Election Commission asked political parties not to use children in campaigning “in any form whatsoever”.

Ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday instructed political parties and candidates to refrain from involving children in any form of election campaign.

Reiterating its zero-tolerance stance on the use of children in any election-related activities, the poll body, in an advisory sent to parties, conveyed that they should not involve children in any manner, including “holding a child in their arms, carrying a child in a vehicle or in a rally”.

“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 and who is not involved in any election campaigning activity by the political party, will not be construed as a violation of the guidelines,” it added.

The EC reminded all political parties of their obligation to adhere to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, as amended in 2016. 

It further underscored the importance of upholding the judiciary’s directives, citing a 2014 order by the Bombay High Court, which had stressed the need to ensure that political parties do not allow the participation of children in any election-related activities.

District Election Officers and Returning Officers are tasked with ensuring strict compliance with child labour laws and electoral guidelines.

“Any violation of these provisions by election machinery under their jurisdiction will result in severe disciplinary action,” the poll panel said.

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