Prelims level : Election and Electoral Reforms Mains level : Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
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Why is it in News?

  • SC agreed to urgently clear a plea on Modi biopic. It further said the biopic is meant to manipulate the voters in violation of model code of conduct in place for Lok Sabha polls.

Model code of conduct:

  • The Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India to regulate the conduct of political parties and their candidates in the run up to elections and is aimed at ensuring free and fair elections.

When did it come about?

  • The MCC was first proposed by Kerala in its 1960 assembly elections.
  • It was later adopted by the Election Commission of India (EC) during mid-term elections in 1968 and 1969.
  • It has since been updated many times based on cases fought in courts.
  • EC first issued a Model Code of Conduct for political parties at the time of the fifth general elections, held in 1971.
  • The Code has evolved over the years to include behaviour norms for the party in power and the public servants who report to it.

Key features:

  • General conduct of candidates
  • Candidates’ meetings/processions
  • Appointment of observers
  • Maintenance of polling booths on the day
  • Contents in election manifestos
  • The Code of Conduct comes into force immediately after the elections are announced by the EC. It applies to political parties, their candidates and polling agents, the government in power and all government employees. Public places for holding election rallies and helipads for flights in connection with elections are to be made available to all parties on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power. Ministers and other government authorities should not announce any financial grants to the people; they should not lay foundation stones for or inaugurate any projects; they should not promise public facilities like roads; and they should not make any ad hoc government appointments.

Is it legally binding?

  • The Model Code of Conduct does not have any statutory backing.
  • But the Code has come to acquire significance in the past decade, because of its strict enforcement by the EC. Some of the more serious offences listed in the Code have also found their way into the statute books. So, for some of the offences mentioned, candidates can be tried under the Indian Penal Code or the Representation of the People Act 1951.

Representation of Peoples Act provides for the following:

  • Qualification of
  • Preparation of electoral
  • Delimitation of
  • Allocation of seats in the Parliament and state

Election commission of India

  • The Election Commission of India, abbreviated as ECI is a constitutional body responsible for administering elections in India. It was established on January 25, 1950. The major aim of election commission of India is to define and control the process for elections conducted at various levels, Parliament, State Legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President of India. According to Article 324 of Indian Constitution, the Election Commission of India has superintendence, direction, and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature (state legislative assembly & state legislative council) of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.

Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners:

The President has the power to select Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

They have the same status and receive pay and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through accusation by Parliament

Key functions of the Election Commission of India:

  • The Election Commission of India is considered the guardian of free and reasonable elections. It issues the Model Code of Conduct in every election for political parties and candidates so that the decorum of democracy is maintained.
  • It regulates political parties and registers them for being eligible to contest elections.
  • It publishes the allowed limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
  • The political parties must submit their annual reports to the ECI for getting tax benefit on contributions. It guarantees that all the political parties regularly submit their audited financial reports.
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