Chief Justice of India Justice J S Khehar on Saturday said that politicians and political parties must be held accountable for promises made by them to seek votes as their manifestos often turned out to be mere pieces of paper.
He said the commitments made by the political parties remained unfulfilled promises. “Nowadays manifestos have become mere pieces of paper, for this political parties have to be made accountable,” the CJI said here at a seminar titled ‘Economic Reforms with Reference to Electoral issues’.
Inaugurating the seminar, President Pranab Mukherjee said that a strong electoral system is necessary to strengthen the democratic structure of India. “Timely reforms are necessary to give justice to the people. It is necessary to undertake a dispassionate analysis of the way in which our electoral process is functioning with a view to addressing the shortcomings in the system,” he said.
Mukherjee said it is time that we looked at the legal provisions on the delimitation of the Parliamentary constituencies with a view to increasing their number as its freeze has led to an anomalous situation with over 800 million voters electing just 543 Lok Sabha MPs.
In his speech, the CJI also favoured a comprehensive reform of election process.He said that political parties promised various freebies to attract voters, but such promises routinely remained unfulfilled and voters also did not agitate on the issue as they also forget their unfulfilled expectation because of short term memory.
Political parties give ‘brazen’ excuses like lack of consensus among their members to justify non-fulfilment of their poll promises, Justice Khehar said. On the manifestos released by political parties during the 2014 general elections, the CJI said none of them indicated any link between electoral reforms and constitutional goal of ensuring economic-social justice to the marginalised section.
He said pursuant to the Supreme Court’s directions to the Election Commission of India to formulate guidelines against freebies, the poll panel has been taking action against parties for violation of the model code of conduct. Justice Dipak Misra, the next senior-most judge, said a candidate must bear in mind that “contesting elections is not an investment”.