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Do We Need a Code of Conduct For Politicians?

Posted by Admin on May 8, 2014 | Comment

If not for anything else, 2014 Lok Sabha elections will surely be remembered for personal attacks, snide remarks and hate speeches made at the expense of taking political discourse to its nadir. In a bid to assert their superiority over the rest, some political leaders went overboard and blurred the line between public and private lives. Some even threatened voters with dire consequences if they are not voted to power. To ensure civility in political speeches and expressions, establishing code of conduct for politicians is mandatory.

Do We Need a Code of Conduct For Politicians

Model Code of Conduct for Politicians

Our existing Model Code of Conduct explains how political parties and their respective candidates should conduct in the run-up to the elections. It outlines the Dos and Don’ts they ought to abide by while campaigning and conducting election-related activities. The reason politicians are made legally bound to follow the code is to ensure that free and fair elections take place across the country. From the moment the elections are announced, to the time the results are declared, the model code of conduct acts as a rule book for the politicians. According to Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the Election Commission is vested with the power of superintendence, direction, control and conduct of free and fair elections.

Election Commission Should Play a Bigger Role

There’s a lot more that a poll panel ought to do to make it difficult for the errant politicians. Its responsibility doesn’t ends with the filing of an FIR against a candidate who is violating code of conduct. It should direct political parties to withdraw such candidates. Recent cases of poll code violations have not seen a fitting response from the election watchdog. It hasn’t succeeded in coming down heavily on those who are challenging the democratic set up. Stronger actions such as derecognizing political parties and other powers need to be exercised for the larger interest of the democracy.

Need for Code of Conduct for Politicians

The politicians representing their constituencies in the Parliament have time and again brought ill-repute to the institution with their incivility. Creating ruckus in the Parliament; making unacceptable remarks and disrupting the House proceedings are some of the major allegations they face. Tenure of some of the politicians is also fraught with severe charges of impropriety. Now that certainly calls for setting of standards of conduct for parliamentarians.

Although the Parliament Speaker cannot penalize the members on grounds of misconduct, under Rule 374 A of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha”, the Speaker can suspend members creating disorder in the House. The first time when such rule was put into practice was in 2013 when Meira Kumar suspended politicians from Seemandhra region for forcing adjournments. However, the feasibility of the provision has been questioned and the experts consider that this rule is “against the spirit of the Constitution”.

It has been long since a parliamentary panel had recommended a 14-point code of conduct that somewhat outlines what’s expected from the politicians. The recommendation document clearly prohibits MPs from misusing the power and immunities they get. The panel also proposed that an MP should avoid conflict between a private and a public interest. The committee had judiciously recommended that no parliamentarian should be allowed to vote on those questions in the House, in which he/she has a vested interest.

It’s time that such recommendations are tabled in the Parliament and all its clauses are scrutinized under the aegis of a standing committee. Only after a rigorous debate in both the Houses of Parliament, should the bill be passed and made into a law, which will be binding on all the politicians irrespective of their seniority and party affiliation.