Model Code of Conduct

Headline : Model Code of Conduct

About Model Code of Conduct

  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission (EC) to ensure free and fair elections.
  • This is in keeping with Article 324 of the Constitution, which gives the Election Commission the power to supervise elections to the Parliament and state legislatures.
  • It comes into force from the day the EC announces the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections till the date the results are announced.

 

Historical Background:         

  • A form of the MCC was first introduced in the state assembly elections in Kerala in 1960. It was a set of instructions to political parties regarding election meetings, speeches, slogans, etc.
  • In the 1962 general elections to the Lok Sabha, the MCC was circulated to recognised parties, and state governments sought feedback from the parties.
  • The MCC was largely followed by all parties in the 1962 elections and continued to be followed in subsequent general elections.
  • The MCC incorporated certain restrictions in 1979, regulating the conduct of the party in power.

 

 

Key provisions of the MCC:

  • General conduct:
    • While political parties can criticise the other candidates based on policies and programmes and their work record, they are not allowed to use caste and communal sentiments to lure voters.
    • They cannot bribe or intimidate voters and most importantly, they cannot criticise them based on unverified reports.
    • Any place of worship should not be used for election propaganda.
  • Meetings
    • It is mandatory for the political parties to inform the local police about their rallies and public meetings and provide them time to make adequate security arrangements.
    • Holding public meetings during the 48-hour period before the hour fixed for the closing of the poll is also prohibited. The 48-hour period is known as “election silence”.
  • Processions
    • Carrying or burning effigies of the opponents is not allowed.
    • If two rival parties plan a road show in the same area, then their routes must not clash.
  • Polling day
    • All those workers who are working for their parties in the polling booth must wear a badge with party name and symbol.
  • Polling booths
    • Apart from voters, only those individuals with a permit from the EC will be allowed to enter polling booths.
    • The political party must not campaign for votes within a distance of 100 metres of the polling booth on the day of voting.
  • Observers
    • If candidates have concerns about the conduct of election, they can reach out to observers appointed by the EC.
  • Restrictions over party in power
    • The ruling party must not advertise at the cost of the public exchequer or use official mass media for publicity on achievements.
    • Ministers must not combine official visits with election work or use official machinery for the same.
    • The ruling party also cannot use government transport or machinery for campaigning.
    • No policy, project or scheme can be announced that can influence the voting behaviour..
    • Other parties must be allowed to use public spaces, and it must not be monopolised by those in power.
    • The ruling government cannot make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. which may influence the voters.
  • Election manifestos
    • Added in 2013, these guidelines prohibit parties from making promises that exert an undue influence on voters, and suggest that manifestos also indicate the means to achieve promises.

 

 

Is MCC legally enforceable?

  • The MCC does not have statutory backing i.e. if someone breaches the MCC, a case cannot be filed under any clause of the code itself.
  • The EC uses moral sanction or censure for its enforcement.
  • However, in extreme conditions, the EC can file a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)and Representation of the People Act, 1951 or the Income Tax Act etc.
Section : Polity & Governance
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