Explained: What is Model Code of Conduct, when does it come into equation?
New Delhi, Feb 27: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday announced the Assembly poll dates for Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry in a press conference.
It can be seen that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that is laid down by the ECI comes into effect soon as the dates for the elections are announced. It is necessary for all political parties to heed the MCC.
The MCC is a set of rules that are put in force by the ECI to guarantee free and fair elections. It is a set of norms that have evolved with political parties consenting to abide by the principles embodied in the said code. It also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
Where is the MCC applicable?
The MCC is valid from the date of announcement of an election, either to the Parliament, State Assembly or Districts, and continues through the election in question.
In case of Assembly elections, it is valid throughout the poll-bound state. In the case of Parliamentary or General Elections, the MCC is valid throughout the country.
Where does the Election Commission come into the equation?
The Election Commission ensures the code's observance by political parties including ruling parties at the Centre and in the States. The EC ensures free, fair and peaceful elections to the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
It also ensures that official machinery for electoral purposes is not misused. Further, it ensures that electoral offences, malpractices and corrupt practices such as impersonation, bribing and inducement of voters, threat and intimidation to the voters are prevented.
What are the restrictions during the enforcement of the MCC?
- Ministers cannot combine their official visit with electioneering work. They can also not make use of official machinery or personnel during electioneering.
- No transport including official aircraft, vehicles, etc. can be used for the furtherance of the interest a candidate or a party.
- A total ban on transfer and posting of all officers/officials directly or indirectly connected with the conduct of the election is put in effect. If any transfer or posting of an officer is considered necessary, prior approval of the Commission must be obtained.
- No Minister, whether of Union or State, can summon any election-related officer of the constituency or the State for any official discussions anywhere.
- If a Union Minister is travelling out of Delhi on purely official business, which cannot be avoided in the public interest, then a letter certifying to this effect must be sent from the concerned Secretary of the Ministry/Department to the Chief Secretary of the concerned State, along with a copy to the Election Commission.
- Advertisements regarding the achievements of the party at the cost of public exchequer in print and electronic media and the misuse of official mass media are prohibited.
- If an order has been issued by the States or the Union government with respect to any scheme but no work has begun till the MCC is in force, then no work shall be started in that respect. However, if work has actually started in the field, that can be continued.
- No fresh release of funds under MPs/MLAs/MLCs Local Area Development Fund of any scheme can be made in any area where the election is in progress, till the completion of the election.
- Financial institutions funded, partially or wholly by the Governments shall not take recourse to write off loans advanced to any individual, company, firm, etc. Also, the financial limits of such institutions, while granting or extending loans, should not be enhanced by issuing of loans indiscriminately to beneficiaries.