Model Code Of Conduct- What, When And How

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By admin March 12, 2019 06:53

“Citing/invoking or doing some sort of religious propaganda based on Sabarimala issue will be a clear violation of the model code of conduct and we will be taking action. Action will be taken against political parties, or its leaders, if they cite the Supreme Court’s judgment permitting the entry of women of all ages.: Kerala Chief Electoral Officer.

What was the need for this statement? Which type of actions can be taken against the erring leaders? What is the Model Code of Conduct? How it is imposed?

Sabarimala issue is a religious issue. Political groups have been protesting against the SC order which allowed the women devotees between the ages of 10 and 50 to visit the Sabarimala Temple. Tempers are running high. In between all this, the Lok Sabha elections have been announced. So political parties will try to garner votes by instigating the voters. So which ammunition does the EC has to counter this? The answer is – The Model Code of Conduct. The model code is a set of rules laid down by the Election Commission of India, with the consensus of political parties. It is not statutory. It means it is not backed by a parliamentary act. It spells out the dos and does n’ts for elections. Political parties, candidates and polling agents are expected to observe the norms, on matters ranging from the content of election manifestos, speeches and processions, to general conduct, so that free and fair elections take place. The EC traces its introduction to the 1960 Assembly elections in Kerala. In October 1979, the EC came up with a comprehensive code that saw further changes after consultations with parties.

Broad objectives:

  1. Ensuring a level playing field for all political parties
  2. Preventing conflicts between parties/candidates
  3. Ensuring law and order in the election season.

When is the code enforced?
The code comes into force on the announcement of the poll schedule and remains operational till the process is concluded. It is also applicable to a “caretaker” government on the premature dissolution of a State Assembly.

How it comes into force?
The EC ensures that ruling parties at the Centre and in States adhere to the code. It is EC’s mandate to conduct free and fair elections under Article 324 of the Constitution. Anyone can report the violations to the EC or approach the court. The EC has included joint task forces of enforcement agencies and flying squads to enforce the code. The EC has also introduced cVIGIL mobile app through which audio-visual evidence of malpractices can be reported.

What are the key malpractices?
Any activity aggravating existing differences or creating mutual hatred or causing tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic, is a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act. Making an appeal to caste or communal feelings to secure votes and using places of worship for campaigning are offences under the Act. Bribery to voters is both a corrupt practice and an electoral offence under the Act and Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code. Intimidation of voters is also an electoral offence while impersonating them is punishable under the IPC. Serving or distributing liquor on election day and during the 48 hours preceding it is an electoral offence. Holding public meetings during the 48-hour period ending with the hour fixed for the closing of the poll is also an offence.

What restrictions does the code impose?
According to the EC, the code states that the party in power — whether at the Centre or in the States — should ensure that it does not use its official position for campaigning.
Ministers and other government authorities cannot announce financial grants in any form. No project or scheme which may have the effect of influencing the voter in favour of the party in power can be announced. Ministers cannot use official machinery for campaign purposes.

What if the code is not followed?
The Commission can derecognize the political party for violations of the model code under Para 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

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admin
By admin March 12, 2019 06:53