The success of elections in a country like India depends on many factors. Model code of conduct is one such factor, It binds political parties or candidates in moral bonds and thereby increases the transparency and credibility of elections.
In this article, we will discuss the Model Code of Conduct in a simple and easy way and understand its important aspects; So read this article till the end;
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What is the Model Code of Conduct?
Model code of conduct is a set of standards set for the guidance or direction of political parties and candidates, which have been prepared with the consent of the political parties and they themselves have given their consent to follow the principles embodied in the said code.
The Election Commission has been established under Article 324 of the Constitution of India. Its main responsibility is to organize free, fair and peaceful elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
This necessitates that the Election Commission ensure compliance of the appropriate rules by the party(ies) in power at the Center and in the States and the candidates contesting the elections. So that electoral crimes, malpractices, corrupt practices, bribery and acts like inducement and intimidation of voters can be curbed. That is why the Model Code of Conduct is implemented from the date of announcement of the Election Schedule by the Election Commission of India and continues till the completion of the election process.
Code of Conduct during General Elections and Bye-Elections
During the general elections to the Lok Sabha, this code is applicable throughout the country. Similarly, during the general elections to the Legislative Assembly, this code is applicable throughout the state. But during the bye-elections, if that constituency is included in the State Capital/Metropolitan Cities/Municipal Corporations, then this code is applicable only in the respective constituency.
Salient Features of Model Code of Conduct
The Model Code of Conduct lays down how the political parties, contesting candidates and ruling parties should behave during the election process i.e. their normal conduct during the election process, holding of meetings, processions, polling day activities and functioning of the ruling party etc. How will the conduct be? Let us see some examples of what can and cannot be done during this time.
its impact on the government machinery
◾ Ministers cannot mix their official visits with election campaign related work nor will they use government machinery or personnel during election campaign related work. However, the Prime Minister is exempted from this.
◾ No government vehicle, including aircraft, vehicles, etc., can be used for the benefit of any party or candidate.
◾ All the officers/officials associated with the conduct of elections cannot be transferred by the government. If the transfer of any officer is necessary, prior permission of the Commission is necessary before doing so.
◾ Barring certain exceptions, no Minister of the Central or State Government may call anywhere for any official discussion any election officer of the State or Constituency.
◾ No Iftar party or any other type of parties can be organized at any political worker’s house or anywhere in his constituency at government expense. However, if they want to do so at their own expense,
◾ The Minister or any other authority shall not make any financial grant in any form or any promise in relation thereto.
◾️ No minister other than a civil servant can lay the foundation stone of any project or scheme etc.
◾ will not make any appointment on ad hoc basis in government or private sector undertakings.
Its impact on election campaign
◾ During the election campaign, no candidate or party shall indulge in any such activity which may increase the differences between different communities or which may create hatred amongst the different communities. Apart from this, while criticizing other political parties, it should be limited only to their policies and programmes, past records and actions.
◾ Parties and their candidates should refrain from criticizing all aspects of private life, which are not connected with the public activities of leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers should not be done by making baseless allegations or distorting facts.
◾ For the purpose of election campaign, a candidate can take as many vehicles in a convoy as he wants, but he has to take prior approval of the Returning Officer for driving such vehicles. And he has to prominently display on the wind screen of the vehicle the original (not a photocopy) of the permit issued by the Returning Officer. The permit should mention the permit number of the vehicle and the name of the candidate in whose favor the vehicle is issued.
◾ Political parties/candidates are allowed to hire government aircraft/helicopters or aircraft/helicopters of private companies but it is necessary to comply with the following conditions-
- There should be no distinction between the ruling party and other parties and other candidates contesting elections.
- It will be paid by political parties or contesting candidates and proper record of the same will be maintained.
- The rates and terms & conditions will be same for all.
- The actual allocation should be on ‘first come first serve’ basis.
- In such cases whenever the date and time of two or more applications are same, the allotment will be decided by draw.
- No candidate or party will be allowed to hire aircraft/helicopter for more than three days at a time.
◾ During the election campaign, the candidate is allowed to wear special accessories such as cap, mask, scarf etc., provided they are included in the account of election expenditure of the candidate concerned. However, supply and distribution of main outfits like sarees, shirts etc. by party or candidates is not allowed as it amounts to bribing voters.
◾ Public meetings cannot be held before 6.00 am and after 10 pm. In addition, candidates will have to call off public meetings and processions 48 hours before the closing time of polling. Let us understand it in this way. Suppose, the polling day is 15th July and the polling time is from 8 am to 5.00 pm, then the Jan Sabha and procession will be closed from 5.00 pm on 13th July.
◾ The result of any opinion poll or exit poll shall not be published, publicized or disseminated by any means of print, electronic, or any other media until the end of the voting process
on polling day
◾ A political party or a candidate cannot arrange for transportation to and from the polling station to the voters.
◾ No person armed with any kind of weapon as defined in the Arms Act 1959 is allowed to carry a weapon around the polling station on the day of polling.
◾ Under section 130 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 , campaigning for votes is prohibited within a distance of one hundred meters of the polling station on the day of polling.
The leader of a political party is not permitted to use private fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, for the purpose of monitoring and supervising the process of voting and counting on the day of polling and counting.
Apart from this, there are many provisions in the Model Code of Conduct. I have tried to discuss the important provisions. If you want to know in detail, then visit the Election Commission’s Code of Conduct page.