A few days ago, a BJP MLA from Delhi Om Prakash Sharma shared 2 posts on Facebook.
These were election posters carrying the pictures of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, PM Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and the MLA himself.
At other times, one such activity wouldn’t have caused a problem, now the Model Code of Conduct had kicked in.
And the Election Commission of India (EC) had particularly instructed political parties to refrain from incorporating defense personnel in election campaigns, the EC sent a notice to the MLA and asked Facebook to remove the posts.
What is Model Code of Conduct?
Model Code of Conduct or MCC is like a consensus document whereby the contesting political parties promise to adhere to the spirit of political sportsmanship so as to maintain high public moral grounds and fairness to all the contestants.
Provisions of MCC
MCC is divided into 8 parts:
Part 1 is ‘General Conduct’. It prohibits:
- Any such activities that can create hatred or cause tension between castes, classes or religious and linguistic communities.
- Criticizing a candidate on personal issues or on unverified allegations.
- Using places of worship/religion to ask for votes.
- Using corrupt practices like bribing, intimidating the voters for votes, etc.
Part 2 is ‘Meetings’. It basically asks political parties to inform in advance where and when they are going to meet so that security provisions can be made.
Part 3 is ‘Processions’. It states that carrying or burning effigies of the opponents won’t be allowed and they should not cross paths during road shows to avoid clash.
Parts 4 and 5 state how the candidates must behave on the polling day and at the polling booths respectively. This includes workers at polling booths not wearing any party symbols and prohibition on campaigning within 100 meters of the polling booth on the voting day.
Part 6 is ‘Observers’ and it allows allotment of observers if candidates have concerns about the conduct of election.
Part 7 deals with the ruling party. This part puts several restrictions on the ruling regime like inaugurating and announcing new projects, using public money or government vehicles for campaigning, etc.
Part 8 is ‘Guidelines on Election Manifestos’. It says that the election manifestos should adhere to principles of the constitution, consistent with the provisions of the MCC, possible to be fulfilled, etc.
When does MCC come into force?
MCC kicks in when the EC announces the schedule of elections and remains in force till the time votes are counted. It is applicable at both, the Centre and the State and to parties serving at both the levels.
Which authority to consult?
It is the EC who ensures that the political parties adhere to the MCC. This is because conducting free and fair elections (Article 324 of the Indian Constitution) is under its mandate.
To report a violation of MCC, citizens can now reach the EC directly, through the cVIGIL app. All they have to do is click a picture or record a short video when they feel that the Model Code of Conduct is being breached, describe it in brief and send the complain. Breach of the code on Facebook was reported through this app.
But MCC is not enforceable. This means that its violators cannot be taken to court and be punished. EC only uses moral sanctions to make the political parties act right.
Though the MCC is not legally backed, yet the Election Commission has ensures that free and fair elections are conducted by following the moral code. Moral Code of Conduct is integral for sustaining democracy and we as citizens should therefore report at once if we see its violation.
Image Credits: Google Images
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