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 proposed 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 today (Link:  https://www.eci.gov.in/eci-backend/public/api/download?) to all national and state political parties to immediately cease and desist from any activities that involve registering individuals for post-election beneficiary-oriented schemes through any advertisements/ survey/App.  

The Commission said the act of inviting/calling upon individual electors to register for post-election benefits may create an impression of the requirement of one-to-one transactional relationship between the elector and the proposed benefit and has the potential to generate quid-pro-quo arrangement for voting in a particular way thereby leading to inducement. 

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 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 People’s Act, 1951, and Section 171 (B) IPC.

Table 1: 

  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. (This may or may not have an invitation for availing individual benefits or revealing their voting preference).
  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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