Political parties who involve children in their election campaigns stand to be derecognised, the Election Commission of India (ECI) told the Bombay high court on Tuesday.
The division bench of justices AS Oka and GS Kulkarni was hearing a PIL seeking action against deployment of children in campaigns. On September 16, the ECI had written to all chief secretaries and political parties, emphasising that children should not be involved in the election process.
An affidavit filed by Shirish Mohod, under-secretary of the state’s chief election commission, said that political parties could have their recognition withdrawn, if they failed to abide by the ECI’s directives.
Under section 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Act, 1968, the ECI can either suspend or withdraw recognition of the party if they fail to ‘follow or carry out the lawful directions and instructions of the commission given from time to time’.
The court recorded the ECI’s statement through advocate P Rajagopal, but said the matter needs to be heard at the final stage.
“Prima facie it appears there is no mechanism to take action against independent candidates who involve children,” said the order. “The prayer regarding the amendment to the code of conduct will also have to be considered.” The bench further directed the election commission to “take appropriate action”.