Electoral promises routinely remain unfulfilled and manifestos turn out to be mere pieces of paper for which political parties must be held accountable, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said on Saturday.
“Nowadays, manifestos have become a mere piece of paper, for this political parties have to be made accountable,” the CJI said at a seminar titled ‘Economic Reforms with Reference to Electoral issues’.
The CJI, speaking in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, said political parties give “brazen” excuses like lack of consensus among their members to justify non-fulfilment of poll promises.
On the manifestos released by parties during the 2014 general elections, Justice Khehar said none of them indicated any link between electoral reforms and Constitutional goal of ensuring economic-social justice for the SC/STs and other weaker sections of society.
He also said that economic growth has to be coupled with economic justice and economic harmony.
He said pursuant to the Supreme Court’s directions to the Election Commission to formulate guidelines against freebies, the poll panel has been taking action against parties for violation of the model code of conduct.
Justice Dipak Misra, the next senior-most judge, also stressed upon the need for electoral reforms saying that “purchasing power has no room in elections” and a candidate must bear in mind that “contesting elections is not an investment”.
He said holding of elections has to be “bereft of or sans criminalisation” and people should vote for candidates based on their high moral and ethical values and “not on their competitive demerits”.
Calling for the accountability of the elected representatives, President Mukherjee in his inaugural address said that all political parties will have to develop a voluntary code of conduct for their working.
He said that except for the two general elections of 1957 and 1984, in no election since has any party in the Lok Sabha secured 50 plus percentage of votes. Even in 1984, the Congress under late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi got only 48.6% of votes.
Mukherjee said that the difficulty was that those getting less than 50% votes and not in power have “every thing but no accountability”.
Calling for a healthy debate, the President said that Parliament was not just a deliberating body but also a decision making body.