MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
03, Apr 2019
Prelims level : Polity and Governance Mains level : GS – II (Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e- governance- applications, IR)
Why in News:
- Displeasure over the lackadaisical approach of Air India and the Railways in enforcing the Model Code of Conduct – Election Commission.
- The MCC is a set of instructions to be followed by both political parties and candidates contesting elections on general conduct, campaigning, meetings etc. The MCC is in place, till the entire process of elections is complete.
Guidelines for General Conduct:
- The following are the important guidelines for general conduct when the MCC is in place.
- No party or candidate should include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.
- Criticism of other political parties, when made, should be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and Candidates should not criticise on the aspects of private life of other candidates
- There should be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship should not be used as forum for election propaganda.
- All parties and candidates should avoid activities which are corrupt practices under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters,
- canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of the poll, and the transport of voters to and from polling station.
- Any violation of the above guidelines will invite a notice from the ECI as to why action should not be taken against them. Notices have been issued to candidates from various political parties for violation of model code of conduct.
Guidelines relating to Meetings & Processions:
- The MCC also contains guidelines with respect to conduct of meetings & holding processions. Some of the important guidelines are the following
- The party or candidate should inform the local police authorities of the venue and time of any proposed meeting well in time so as to enable the police to make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining peace and order.
- If permission or license is to be obtained for the use of loudspeakers or any other facility in connection with any proposed meeting, the party or candidate should apply to the authority concerned well in advance and obtain such permission or license.
- Organizers of a meeting should invariably seek the assistance of the police on duty for dealing with persons disturbing a meeting or otherwise attempting to create disorder. Organizers themselves should not take action against such persons.
- A Party or candidate organizing a procession should decide before hand the time and place of the starting of the procession, the route to be followed and the time and place at which the procession will terminate. There should ordinarily be no deviation from the programme. The organizers should take steps in advance to arrange for passage of the procession so that there is no block or hindrance to traffic. If the procession is very long, it shall be organized in segments of suitable lengths, to avoid road blockage.
- If two or more political parties or candidates propose to take processions over the same route at about the same time, the organizers should establish contact well in advance and decide upon the measures to be taken to see that the processions do not clash or cause hindrance to traffic.
Guidelines for the Polling Day and at the Polling Booth:
- On the day the polling, all the political parties and candidates should abide by the following instructions.
- Refrain from serving or distributing liquor on polling day and during the forty-eight hours preceding it. Not allow unnecessary crowd to be collected near the camps set up by the political parties and candidates near the polling booth. Excepting the voters, no one without a valid pass from the Election Commission shall enter the polling booths.
- Apart from these, there are other guidelines for election observers and the party in power. The following are the some of the important guidelines for the party in power.
- The party in power whether at the Centre or in the State or States concerned, should ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign.
- Public places such as maidans etc, for holding election meetings, and use of helipads for air-flights in connection with elections should not be monopolized by the party in power. Other parties and candidates should also be allowed the use of such places and facilities on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power.
- Rest houses, bungalows or other Government accommodation should not be monopolized by the party in power or its candidates and such accommodation should be allowed to be used by other parties and candidates in a fair manner.
- Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements of the party in power should be avoided.
- Ministers and other authorities should not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced by the Commission and from the time elections are announced.
- Besides this, Ministers and other authorities should not announce any financial grants in any form or promises or lay foundation stones etc of projects or any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc or any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favor of the party in power.
Is the enforcement effective?
- While the ECI does issue notices to various candidates for the violation of the MCC, it generally does not go to the extent of taking any action. The issue ends with a warning to the candidate not to repeat the same mistake. Though there are multiple electoral offences as defined under various laws, rarely is action taken in any of these cases.