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ECI warns political parties to shun voter inducements by surrogate means

New Delhi: The Election Commission of India has directed all political parties to shun indirect inducements of voters by offering post-election benefits, rewards etc. in the guise of Surveys or surrogate channels like enrolling/ registering voters for postelection beneficiary-oriented schemes under the guise of surveys
ECI advisory says, potential of quid pro quo for voting and inducements amounts tobribery/corrupt practice
The Election Commission of India has taken a serious view of activities by political
parties and candidates seeking details of voters under the guise of various surveys for their Electionsproposed beneficiary schemes, as a corrupt practice of bribery under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It has noted that, “some political parties and candidates have been engaging in activities that blur the lines between legitimate surveys and partisan efforts to register individuals for post-election beneficiary-oriented schemes”.
The Commission, while noticing various instances in the ongoing General Elections  2024, has issued an advisory.

The Commission while acknowledging that generic and general electoral promises are in the realm of permissibility, noted that such activities as mentioned in table below obscure the distinction between authentic surveys and biased attempts to enrol people in programs for political gain, all while masquerading as legitimate survey activities or efforts to inform about government programs or party agendas related to potential individual benefits.
The Commission has also directed all District Election Officers to take appropriate actions against any such advertisements within the statutory provisions namely Section 127A
of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, 123 (1) of the Representation of Peoples Act. 1951 and Section 171(B) of IPC. The following activities  have been red-flagged by the ECI:

1. Newspaper advertisements calling upon individual voters to register themselves for benefits by giving missed  calls on a mobile or calling on a  telephone number.
2. Distribution of guarantee cards in the form of pamphlets giving details of prospective individual benefits along with an attached form asking for details of voters such as name, age, address, mobile number, booth number, constituency name & number etc.
3. Distribution of forms seeking details of voters such as name, ration card number, address, phone number, booth number, bank account number, constituency name & number etc. in the name of socio-economic survey of prospective beneficiaries for expanding an ongoing government individual benefit scheme.

4. Circulation or propagation of web platforms or web /mobile application  by political parties/ candidates seeking details of voters such as name, address, phone number, booth number, constituency name & number etc.
5. Newspaper advertisements or physical forms regarding existing individual benefit schemes along with registration form seeking details of the voter such as name, husband/father’s name, contact number, address etc.

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