MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
Model code of conduct are directory set of guidelines issued under the authority of the Election commission to regulate the conduct and activities of Political candidates and respective parties prior to the elections with respect to factors such as speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
Article 324 of the Constitution of India provides Election commission with the powers to supervise the conduct and implement the environment of fair and free elections to the parliament and state legislatures ,which eventually confers the procedural responsibility on the part of EC to comply with the mandate so specified through the supreme law of the country.
The operational mechanism of the Model code of conduct gets implemented from the date of announcement of the election schedule and lasts until the date of result is declared.
The root and evolution of the concept of MCC in India can be tracked back when in 1960 the state administration authorities of Kerala for Assembly elections for the first time prepared a model for the ‘Code of Conduct’ in regards with the influencing activities of political candidates.
Following which two years later in 1962 Election commission of India also circulated the framed guidelines of conduct to be followed, to recognised political parties and state governments respectively. On a positive note, it was vehemently welcomed and followed in accordance.
Till 1991, there was no particularly framed Model for the code of conduct and the set of flexible directory guidelines were only followed and issued. But continuous observations of increase in corrupt practices and violations of election ethics made EC to come up with a strictly framed conduct guidelines to deal with the manipulative methods that were being used by the political parties to incline the decision in their favour.
ELEMENTS OF GUIDELINES
The Model code of conduct authorised by Election commission is inherent of eight regulatory provisions which are briefly as follows;
1) Moral basic conduct-
The general conduct of the parties must be based on criticism of policies, work and records of the programmes initiated by the opposition parties and candidates and should not be targetted on the religion and Individuality within personal capacity. The basic moral conduct specifies the maintainability of professionalism.
2) Prior information of Gathering-
Parties are through the guidelines conferred with liabilities of placing prior information to the local police authorities of any massive gatherings or rallies to ensure security and safety for the social entities.
In case of two or more candidates are proceeding with rallies through same route, possibilities of clash must be neglected.
4) Polling booth conduct-
All authorised party workers at polling booths should be given suitable badges or identity cards. Identity slips supplied by them to voters shall be on plain (white) paper and shall not contain any symbol, name of the candidate or the name of the party. Only voters, and those with a valid pass from the EC are allowed to enter polling booths.
5) Official observer-
The EC also conferred some responsibility over itself for the benefit of candidates, one of which is concerned with the appointment of an observer whom the Candidates can report any complaint or issue regarding the breach of any conduct or hurdles in the fair proceedings.
6) Party in power-
With the introduction of some restrictions in 1979 the conduct of the ruling parties were also tried to be regulated to expand the scope and confine the powers for the supreme authority to continue as entitled of seeking answers and not eventually turn into answerable. The introduction aforementioned specified that the official capacity of ministers must not become dominating over the other with any sort of help from the system to lead the proceedings as Voluntarily equal for all the claiming candidates.
7) Electoral manifestos-
The directory amendment of 2013 added that the manifestos must refrain from engaging with fake promises to lure the voters rather should also indicate the means of how the presented promises are going to be fulfilled and if they’re achievable at all.
8) Legal enforcement-
Statutes such as the Indian Penal Code 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, and Representation of the People Act 1951 help the EC in regulating the implementation of guidelines with strict measures provided there is no legal recognition or sanction to the directorial machinery.
Although in 2013, the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, made a recommendation to provide the guidelines the status of “Legally sanctioned” by making it a part of the Representation of the people’s act,1951. But giving the reason that “Elections must be completed within a relatively short time or close to 45 days and judicial proceedings typically take longer, therefore it is not feasible to make it enforceable by law” Election commission argued contrarily to give it a legal recognition.
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