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Meaning of Model Code of Conduct

Posted by Admin on September 26, 2014 | Comment

The concept of free and fair elections is enshrined in Indian Constitution. Over the years, different provisions have been incorporated in the Constitution to empower voters and provide a level playing field for the political parties. The Model Code of Conduct is one such provision aimed at ensuring peace and order before and during the elections.

Model Code of Conduct - meaning

The Meaning of Model Code of Conduct

The Model Code of Conduct is issued by the Election Commission (EC) as a set of guidelines for the political parties and candidates to follow during elections. The guidelines mainly elucidate norms pertaining to public speeches, election manifestos, processions, and general conduct. The code of conduct becomes effective from the moment the election schedule is announced by the poll panel.

Role of Election Commission

The job of Election Commission doesn’t end by establishing such code. It’s incumbent upon the EC to ensure that the political parties and contesting candidates observe the guidelines to make free, fair and peaceful elections possible. Be it the Parliamentary polls or the elections to the State Legislatures, the commission has to ensure that no political party misuses official machinery for the election purpose. Moreover, the responsibility lies on the commission to prevent electoral offences and corrupt practices such as intimidating voters to vote for certain party or ‘buying’ votes by luring electorates with money.  If it is found that the political parties are not observing the code in its letter and spirit, the commission can initiate appropriate action against the offender.

Salient Features of the Model Code of Conduct

As per the Code, government bodies can’t commence any recruitment process during the elections. The code has also made it unlawful for the election candidates and their campaigners to encroach into their rivals’ private lives or hold demonstrations in front of their residence. Similarly, the campaign rallies and road shows should be conducted in such a manner that they don’t affect the road traffic. The local police should be informed about the election rallies in advance so that they can make necessary security arrangements for the candidates.

In a bid to stop candidates from bribing voters, the code has made it obligatory for them to refrain from distributing liquor to electorates during election campaigning. The government or the ruling party leaders are asked to refrain from announcing any financial grants to the people, launching welfare programmes or laying foundation stones and promising public facilities. According to the Code’s instructions, the public spaces like meeting grounds, government guest houses and bungalows should be equally shared among the candidates and they should not be under the control of few candidates.

The code clearly mentions that ruling party should not make any ad-hoc appointment of officials, which can influence the voters in their favour. Besides instructing party candidates to cooperate with the polling officers at the voting booths, it also asks candidates not to display their election symbols near and around the poll booths on the day of voting. No candidate should be allowed to enter the booths if he/ she doesn’t have a valid pass from the EC. In case any malpractice is witnessed by the electorates, they can flag their concern and report complaints to the poll observers stationed at the booths.

Model Code of Conduct during Election Campaign

According to the EC guidelines, no party or candidate is allowed to indulge in activities during the election campaign that may create mutual hatred or cause communal tension. The model code of conduct has specified that political parties can criticise their rivals only on the basis of policies, past record and their work. It’s considered an offence if a political party or a contesting candidate speaks ill about personal lives of their rivals.

The code also prohibits them from criticising other parties or their members based on “unverified allegations.” Distortion of facts is also to be avoided. Political parties can’t pander to the communal feelings during their public speeches and they can’t use places of worship as a “forum for election propaganda.”