The Election Commission of India has announced dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha pollswith the country voting in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 and the with results on May 23. Just after the announcement the Model Code of Conduct came into force on Sunday evening.
According to Article 324 of the Constitution, the Election Commission of India has the power to monitor the Centre, all the state governments, all the candidates and their respective political parties. There are many restrictions for political parties after MCC comes into effect.
After Model Code of Conduct Comes Into Effect. Here’s What Parties Can’t Do.
First Read What is Model Code of Conduct?
Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines for political parties in the country to follow prior to elections as the code of conduct restricts the government from announcing any policy that affects voters’ decisions. MCC provides candidates and political parties with a list of do’s and don’ts, to govern them prior to the elections. These rules help regulate political parties and candidates during speeches, polling day, polling booths, the content of election manifestos, and general conduct, in order to conduct free and fair elections.
When does the Model Code of Conduct come into effect?
According to the Press Information Bureau, a version of the MCC was first introduced in the state assembly elections in Kerala in 1960.
When is the code enforced?
The code comes into force as soon as the EC announces the poll schedule and remains operational until the process is concluded, as provided in the notification. It is also applicable to a “caretaker” government on the premature dissolution of a state assembly.
What restrictions does the Model Code of Conduct impose during elections?
– The MCC comprises of several provisions dealing with general conduct, meetings, rallies and public appearances, polling day, observers, polling booths, party in power and election manifestos.
– As soon as the as the code kicks in, the party in power in both Centre and states should ensure that it does not abuse the official power handed to them for purposes of campaigning. Therefore, no policy, project or scheme can be announced after the MCC is implemented.
– Worth mentioning that the party in power should also avoid advertising at the cost of public exchequer or using any form of the mass media for publicity or propaganda to improve chances of winning the election.
– The MCC also mentions that the ministers must not use any government transport or combine official visits with promotional campaigns for the election.
– Places of worship like mosques, temples, churches, cannot be used for electoral propaganda.
– Holding public meetings during ‘Election Silence’, a 48-hour cooing period before the polling begins, is also restricted.
– Polling booths: Only voters, and those with a valid pass from the Election Commission, will be allowed to enter polling booths.
– Bribery to voters is both a corrupt practice and an electoral offence under the Act and Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code. Intimidation of voters is also an electoral offence, while impersonating them is punishable under the IPC.
– Serving or distributing liquor on election day and during the 48 hours preceding it is an electoral offence.
Does MCC have a statutory backing? Can violations of it be punished by courts?
The MCC was introduced by the EC to ensure transparent and free, fair elections.
This means that if a party violates the MCC, they cannot be charged for violating a section of the code as it has no statutory backing. But in extreme conditions, the EC can file a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or the Income Tax Act.
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