Theme : Representation Of People's Act
Paper : GS - 2
It is a set of guidelines issued by ECI to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
The rules range from issues related to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, content of election manifestos, processions and general conduct, so that free and fair elections are conducted.
TABLE OF CONTENT
(b) What is the Model Code of Conduct ?
(c) Background to the Model Code of Conduct
(d) Restrictions imposed under MCC
(e) Violation of MCC
(f) Powers under Article- 324
Context : An Important topic on account of Elections going to take place in any of the Indian States.
What is the Model Code of Conduct ?
- It is a set of guidelines issued by ECI to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
- The rules range from issues related to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, content of election manifestos, processions and general conduct, so that free and fair elections are conducted.
Background to the Model Code of Conduct :
- The MCC comes into force from the date the election schedule is announced until the date that results are out.
- According to the PIB, a version of the MCC was first introduced in the state assembly elections in Kerala in 1960.
- It was largely followed by all parties in the 1962 elections and continued to be followed in subsequent general elections.
- In October 1979, the EC added a section to regulate the ‘party in power’ and prevent it from gaining an unfair advantage at the time of elections.
Restrictions imposed under MCC :
- As soon as the code kicks in, the party in power whether at the Centre or in the States should ensure that it does not use its official position for campaigning.
- Hence, no policy, project or scheme can be announced that can influence the voting behavior.
- The code also states that the ministers must not combine official visits with election work or use official machinery for the same.
- The ruling government cannot make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. which may influence the voters.
- Political parties or candidates can be criticized based only on their work record and no caste and communal sentiments can be used to lure voters.
For Political Parties
- The party must also avoid advertising at the cost of the public exchequer or using official mass media for publicity on achievements to improve chances of victory in the elections.
- The ruling party also cannot use government transport or machinery for campaigning.
- It should also ensure that public places such as maidans etc., for holding election meetings, and facilities like the use of helipads are provided to the opposition parties on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power.
Violation of MCC :
- The ECI can issue a notice to a politician or a party for alleged breach of the MCC either on its own or on the basis of a complaint by another party or individual.
- Once a notice is issued, the person or party must reply in writing either accepting fault and tendering an unconditional apology or rebutting the allegation.
- In the latter case, if the person or party is found guilty subsequently, he/it can attract a written censure from the ECI — something that many see as a mere slap on the wrist.
- However, in extreme cases, like a candidate using money/liquor to influence votes or trying to divide voters in the name of religion or caste, the ECI can also order registration of a criminal case under IPC or IT Act.
Powers under Article- 324 :
- The Commission rarely resorts to punitive action to enforce MCC, there is one recent example when unabated violations forced EC’s hand.
- During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the EC had banned a leader and now party president from campaigning in order to prevent them from further vitiating the poll atmosphere with their speeches.
- The Commission resorted to its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to impose the ban.
1. What is the Model Code of Conduct ?
Answer : It is a set of guidelines issued by ECI to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
2. When does MCC Come into force?
Answer : The MCC comes into force from the date the election schedule is announced until the date that results are out.