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Election panel to hold all-party meet over framing guildelines

The Election Commission of India (EC) will call an all party meeting on framing guidelines on election manifesto. The Supreme Court had directed the EC to frame guidelines for regulating contents of manifestos as early as possible owing to its utmost importance.

The apex court had, while giving verdict on the case related to freebies by political parties, said that distribution of freebies of any kind, undoubtedly, influences all people and it shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree.

The dates for the meeting is yet to be finalised by the EC but is likely to be convened soon. EC has forwarded the copies of the apex court judgment to the political parties for their information and firming up of views. EC statement said that a meeting of all recognised national and state political parties will be held for consultations on implementation of the Supreme Court judgment.

A bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that though the election manifesto is published before the code of conduct comes into force, EC can make an exception by bringing it within code of conduct.

The Election Commission through its counsel had conveyed the same feeling both in the affidavit and in the argument to the court that the promise of freebies at government cost disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the electoral process and thereby expressed willingness to implement any directions or decision of this Court in this regard.

'..Considering that there is no enactment that directly governs the contents of the election manifesto, we hereby direct the Election Commission to frame guidelines for the same in consultation with all the recognized political parties as when it had acted while framing guidelines for general conduct of the candidates, meetings, processions, polling day, party in power etc.

In the similar way, a separate head for guidelines for election manifesto released by a political party can also be included in the model code of conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.
Nitish K Singh

Nitish K Singh

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