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NHRC Chairman Justice Arun Mishra stresses on enactment of law to differentiate between legitimate promises, freebies during elections

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Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, has advocated for the enactment of a new law to differentiate between the legitimate promises made by political parties and freebies offered during elections.

Speaking during the Plenary Session of the Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, the NHRC Chairman said the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections needs to be curbed.

He said time has come to distinguish between the promise made to voters to create an egalitarian social order envisaged by Chapter 4 (of the Indian Constitution) and when freebies promised would be equivalent to alluring voters via forbidden means in elections. 

The differentiation needs to be determined at an appropriate level and forum, even if it meant bringing a specific legislation for the same, he added.

Talking about the impact of letter petitions and public interest litigation (PILs) petitions, the former Supreme Court judge said they brought about positive reforms.

Justice Mishra, however, cautioned against their misuse for political purposes, calling for a halt on such practices. 

Stressing on the need for free and fair elections, which were free from violence, the NHRC Chairman said it was important to further the constitutional goal. Calling fair elections a fundamental human right, he said violence had no place in a democratic process. 

He further stressed on the need for affirmative actions to uplift marginalised sections, particularly within the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), and backward classes.

He observed that some deprived segments within these communities still required additional support such as reservations in order to ensure a level-playing field.

Talking about gender justice for ‘meaningful development,’ he said there was a need to redefine gender equality, since women were still facing discrimination.

As per Justice Mishra, women should enjoy the same civil and inheritance rights, access to education, property ownership and employment opportunities, as enjoyed by their male counterparts.

He appreciated the role of an independent and effective judiciary in upholding justice and fortifying constitutional provisions. Justice should be the cornerstone of all institutions, including the executive branch on administrative fronts, he added.

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