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MCC ensures fair elections

MCC ensures fair elections
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By: Priyanka Saurabh

In the last few years, in all the elections held in the country, be it for Lok Sabha or Assembly, cases of violation of the code of conduct have been reported and political parties generally do not take it very seriously.

Action is taken in case of violation, but it is not such that any example can be set. As soon as the Election Commission announces the dates of Assembly or Lok Sabha elections, the Model Code of Conduct becomes effective. The Model Code of Conduct remains effective till the completion of that election process.

The Election Commission has made some rules for free and fair elections. These rules are called the code of conduct. If any political party or candidate is found guilty of violating the code of conduct, the Election Commission can take action against them as per the rules. These include actions including banning the candidate from contesting elections; if necessary, the Commission can also file a criminal case. If found guilty, he may even be sent to jail.

Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for political parties and candidates to maintain decorum in their election campaigning. It contains a list of do’s and don’ts for leaders and parties before the elections.

The Model Code of Conduct attempts to deal with the problems of electoral fraud and guarantee that elections are conducted fairly and legally. The Model Code of Conduct prohibits political parties and candidates from participating in any activity that may aggravate the already existing tension, and promote enmity towards each other, and gives rise to conflict between different castes, communities, religious and linguistic groups.

The MCC urges political parties to provide a clear explanation of their platform and the general outline of their plan to raise the necessary funds during the elections. The Model Code of Conduct aims to reduce inequalities by banning the use of government machinery by the party in power to publicize its achievements.

After the implementation of the Code of Conduct, no government announcements, announcements of schemes, inauguration of projects, foundation stone laying, or Bhoomi Pujan programs can be held. Government vehicles, government aircraft, or government bungalows cannot be used for election campaigning.

Any party, candidate, or supporter will have to get permission from the police before taking out a rally or procession or holding an election meeting. No political party can seek votes from voters based on caste or religion, nor can it indulge in any activity that may create differences or tension based on religion or caste.

Criticism of political parties should be limited to their policies, programs, records, and work. Party flags, banners, etc. cannot be installed on the walls of anyone’s land, house, or premises without permission. Liquor shops remain closed on the day of voting. Distributing liquor or money to voters is also prohibited.

During voting, it has to be ensured that crowds do not gather in the camps of political parties and candidates near the polling booths. The camps should be simple and there should not be any kind of promotional material present there. No food items should be served.

All parties and candidates should refrain from all such activities that fall under the category of ‘corrupt practices’ and crimes under the Election Code of Conduct – such as paying money to voters, intimidating voters and allowing fake votes. Canvassing in the precincts, canvassing even after polling has closed, and providing vehicles to transport voters to and from polling stations.

The Election Commission appoints observers to keep an eye on political events. After the implementation of the Code of Conduct, no government officer or employee can be transferred without the permission of the Election Commission.

The Election Commission of India has the power to suspend or withdraw the recognition of a party for violating the Model Code of Conduct through the Election Symbols Order of 1968. This action may result in the party losing its reserved symbol, affecting its electoral participation. ECI should remain neutral in imposing MCC on all parties and candidates.

It is necessary to examine and scrutinize the proposal of the Standing Committee on Election Reforms to give legal support to the MCC. Amendments to the MCC to deal with misuse of new technologies: To address the misuse of social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, which are Used to influence public opinion on election day, the MCC should be revised, and the competence of the ECI should be expanded.

Special fast-track courts should be created to try MCC violation cases at the earliest. The Supreme Court can also direct the ECI to initiate criminal proceedings for violation of the Representation of the People Act 1951 guidelines. Although the MCC has no statutory backing, it has gained strength over the last decade due to its strict enforcement by the Election Commission. By implementing these measures, the Election Commission of India can further strengthen its role in maintaining the model code of conduct, ensuring the integrity and fairness of elections in the country.

After knowing and understanding all the rules, one question remains whether the model code of conduct is followed properly. There are no concrete rules regarding the code of conduct. Its sole purpose is to conduct elections transparently and fairly. To enforce this Election Commission uses moral sanction or censure.

The Election Commission has some powers under this, after the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the Commission has made transfers of officers on a large scale. In the last few years, in all the elections held in the country, be it for Lok Sabha or Assembly, cases of violation of the code of conduct have been reported. Political parties generally do not take it very seriously. Action is taken in case of violation, but it is not such that anyone can set an example.

(The author is a research scholar in Political Science)


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