In a significant order, the Election Commission on Saturday directed that no political party shall either use or allow use of public funds or public place or government machinery to carry out an activity that amounts to advertisement for the party or propagation of its election symbol.
The order comes as a follow up of the Delhi High Court’s judgment in a case filed by the NGO Common Cause against the Bahujan Samaj Party for misuse of public funds and public places for propagation of the election symbol of the party.
The BSP, when it was in power in Uttar Pradesh, built parks in Lucknow where statues of elephants were installed, and this was criticised as being intended to propagate the election symbol of the party, the elephant.
The Delhi High Court had directed that the Commission issue appropriate direction or guideline to prevent such misuse. Before taking the final decision, the EC obtained the views of the recognised parties, which supported the idea of having guidelines in this regard.
In its order, the Commission said that it is of the view that utilising public funds or public place for promoting any political party or propagating its election symbol would be antithetical to the concept of free and fair election and the principle of level playing field for all stakeholders.
Accordingly, the Commission has directed that no political party shall henceforth either use or allow the use of any public funds or public place or government machinery for carrying out any activity that would amount to advertisement for the party or propagating the election symbol allotted to the party.
The EC made it clear that any violation of the directions would be treated as violation of a lawful direction of the Commission within the meaning of paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968.