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ELECTION CMMISSION OF INDIA MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE GUIDANCE OF POLITICAL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES
Indian politicians are expected to spend as much as 230,000 crore (nearly $5 billion) on the 2014 general elections, more than their counterparts in the US have ever dreamt of. But how do you make sure that this heart-stopping sum is used in legitimate campaigning and not in bribing, threatening or coaxing the electorate? This is where the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), a set of guidelines formulated by the Election Commission, steps in. The purpose of the code is to ensure free and fair elections.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? The experience of past years has demonstrated that electoral malpractice is a clear and present danger to Indian democracy, with political parties resorting to myriad under-handed tricks to capitalise on voters' poverty, their lack of education or social and communal tensions in order to get to that chair. In such a situation, it might not be the best candidate that wins the poll, but the one that successfully intimidated the population of a constituency. That's what the MCC tries to prevent.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS) Q. What is the Model Code of Conduct? The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
What is the role of Election Commission in the matter? The Election Commission ensures its observance bv political party(ies) in power, including ruling parties at the Centre and in the States and contesting candidates in the discharge of its constitutional duties for conducting the free, fair and peaceful elections to the Parliament and the State Legislatures under Article 324 of the Constitution of India. It is also ensured that official machinery for the electoral purposes is not misused. Further, it is also ensured that electoral offences, malpractices and corrupt practices such as impersonation, bribing and inducement of voters, threat and intimidation to the voters are prevented by all means. In case of violation, appropriate measures are taken
From which date the Model Code of Conduct is enforced and operational upto which date? The Model Code of Conduct is enforced from the date of announcement of election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections are completed What remains unaffected Ongoing programmes that started in the field before announcement of polls Relief and rehabilitation measures to people affected by natural calamities Grant of cash or medical facilities to terminally or critically-ill persons with approprlate approvals Use of public places such as maidans/ helipads to be avallable Impartlally to all contesting parties to ensure a level playing field
What is applicability of code during general elections and bye-elections? a. During general elections to House of People (Lok Sabha), the code is applicable throughout the country. b. During general elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), the code is applicable in the entire State. c. During bye-elections, the code is applicable in the entire district or districts in which the constituency falls.
What are the salient features of the Model Code of Conduct? The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.
Q. Whether a Minister can combine his official visit with electioneering work? No. The Ministers shall not combine their official visit with electioneering work and shall not also make use of official machinery or personnel during the electioneering work.
Q. Whether Govt. transport can be used for electioneering work? No. No transport including official air-crafts, vehicles etc. shall be used for furtherance of the interest of any party or a candidate
Suppose an officer related to election work has been transferred by the Govt. before enforcement of model code of conduct and has not taken over charge at new place. Can such officer take over charge of office at new place after announcement of the code? No Status-quo-ante shall be maintained.
Whether Ministers are entitled for official vehicle during the election? Ministers are entitled to use their official vehicles only for commuting from their official residence to their office for official work provided that such commuting is not combined with any electioneering or any political activity.
Suppose there is a visit of President / Vice President at any place in the State. Is a Minister allowed to use VIP Car with other protocol? Yes The Minister may leave with VIP car and other protocol from his headquarters to the place of visit of President/ Vice President and return to his headquarters without attending any other function/meeting with any other political functionary. This restriction shall be applicable from the time he leaves the Headquarters and till he reaches back the headquarters.
Suppose a vehicle has been provided to Minister by the State and the Minister is given an allowance for maintenance of such vehicle. Can it be used by the Minister for election purposes? Where a vehicle is provided by the State or the Minister is given an allowance for maintenance of the vehicle, he cannot use such vehicle for election.
Whether facility of official vehicles can be withdrawn from those ministers who violate the provisions of Model Code of conduct? Yes The Chief Electoral Officer shall also recover the cost of propulsion from the ministers who may misuse their official position.
Whether there is any restriction or visits of members of National Commission for Schedule Castes or any other similar National /State Commissions? It is advised that all official visits of Members of such Commissions shall be deferred, unless any such visit becomes unavoidable in an emergent situation, till the completion of election exercise to avoid any misunderstanding that may arise in any quarters.
Whether a Chief Minister/Minister /Speaker can attend a "State Day" function of a State? There is no objection provided that he does not make any political speech on the occasion and the function is to be conducted only by Govt. officials. No advertisement depicting the photograph of Chief Minister/Minister/Speaker shall be released.
Whether "Iftar Party" or any other similar party can be hosted at the residence of political functionaries, the expenses of which will be borne by State exchequer? No However any individual is free by to host any such party in his personal capacity and at his personal expense. Q. Is there any restriction on address of Governor in the Assembly Session (budget)? No
Whether a Minister or any other authority can sanction grants/ payments out of discretionary funds? No Ministers and other authorities shall not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced
Whether money can be withdrawn from treasury against the sanctioned amount from the discretionary funds of Ministers to prepare draft in the names of beneficiaries which may be disbursed after process of election is completed? The funds may either be kept in "Personal Ledger Account" of the concerned Department or the release may be deferred till the completion of elections.
Suppose work order has been issued in respect of a scheme or a programme. Can it be started after announcement of election programme? Work shall not be started in respect of which work order has been issued before announcement of election but the work has actually not started in the field. If a work has actually started in the field that can be continued
a) Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) Beneficiaries, who have been sanctioned housing scheme under IAY and have started work, will be assisted as per norms. No new constructions will be taken up or fresh beneficiaries sanctioned assistance till the elections are over. (b) Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) Continuing works in progress may be continued and funds earmarked for such works can be released. In case of any Panchayat where all ongoing works have been completed and there is a requirement for taking up new wage employment works and where funds released directly to the Panchayats from the Ministry of Rural Development are available, new works can be started from approved annual action plan for the current year with the prior consent of the District Election Officer. From other funds, no new works shall be started
Whether a Minister or any other authority can announce any financial grants in anv form or promises thereof or lay foundation stones etc. of proiects or schemes of any kinds etc.? Ministers and other authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof; or (except civil servants) lay foundatiorn stones etc. of projects or schemes of a y kind; or make any promise of construction of roads, provision of dri any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. In such case, senior Govt. Officer may lay foundation stone etc. without involving any political functionary. water facilities tc, or make
Suppose work order has already been issued for a scheme. Can work be started in respect of such scheme? No work shall be started in respect of which even if work orders have already been issued, if the work has actually not started in the field. Work can start only after the completion of election process. However, if a work has actually started, that can be continued Q. Is there any bar to release of payments for completed work? There shall be no bar to the release of payments for completed work subject to the full satisfaction of the concerned officials.
How the Govt. may meet the emergency situation or unforeseen calamities, when there are restrictions for announcing welfare measures? For tackling emergencies or unforeseen calamities like providing relief to people suffering from drought, floods, pestilences, other natural calamities or welfare measures for the aged, infirm etc. Govt. may do so after obtaining prior approval of the Commission and all ostentatious functions shall be strictly avoided and no impression shall be given or allowed to be created that such welfare measures or relief and rehabilitation works are being undertaken by the Government in office with any ulterior motive.
Whether financial institutions funded, partially or wholly by the Governments can write off loans advanced to any individual, company, firm, etc.? The financial institutions funded, partially or wholly by the Governments shall not take recourse to writing off loans advanced to any individual, company, firm, etc. Also, financial limits of such institutions, while granting or extending loans, should not be enhanced by issuing of loans indiscriminately to beneficiaries
. All parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are "corrupt practices" and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 4S hours ending wvito the hour fiked for the close of the poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from polling statiorn . The right of every individual for peaceful and undisturbed home-life shall be respected, however much the political parties or candidates may resent his political opinions or activities.Organising demonstrations or picketing before the houses of individuals by way of protesting against eir opinions or activities shall not be resorted to under any circumstances. No political party or candidate shall permit its or his followers to make use of any individual's land, building, compound wall etc., without his permission for erecting flag-staffs, suspending banners, pasting notices, writing slogans etc
- If permission or license is to be obtained for the use of loudspeakers or any other facility in connection with any proposed meeting, the party or candidate shall apply to the authority concerned well in advance and obtain such permission or license. - Organisers of a meeting shall invariably seek the assistance of the police on duty for dealing with persons disturbing a meeting or otherwise attempting to create disorder. Organisers themselves shall not take action against such persons.
(3) The organisers shall ascertain if any restrictive orders are in force in the localities through which the procession has to pass, and shall comply with the restrictions unless exempted specially by the competent authority. Any traffic regulations or restrictions shall also be carefully adhered to (4) The organisers shall take steps in advance to arrange for passage of the procession so that there is no block or hindrance to traffic. If the procession is very long, it shall be organised in segments of suitable lengths, so that at convenient intervals, especially at points where the procession has to pass road junctions, the passage of held up traffic could be allowed by stages thus avoiding heavy traffic congestion
IV. POLLING DAY All Political parties and candidates shall (i) co-operate with the officers on election duty to ensure peaceful and orderly polling and complete freedom to the voters to exercise their franchise without being subjected to any annoyance or obstruction (ii) supply to their authorized workers suitable badges or identity cards. (iii) agree that the identity slip 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;
V. POLLING BOOTH Excepting the voters, no one without a valid pass from the Election Commission shall enter the polling booths VI. OBSERVERS The Election Commission is appointing Observers. If the candidates or their agents have any specific complaint or problem regarding the conduct of elections they may bring the same to the notice of the Observer.
(ii) Public places such as maidans etc., for holding election meetings, and use of helipads for air-flights in connection with elections shall not be monopolized by itself. Other parties and candidates shall be allowed the use of such places and facilities on the same terms and conditions on which they are used by the party in power;
(iii) Rest houses, dak bungalows or other Government accommodation shall not be monopolized by the party in power or its candidates and such accommodation shall be allowed to be used by other parties and candidates in a fair manner but no party or candidate shall use or be allowed to use such accommodation (including premises appertaining thereto) as a campaign office or for holding any public meeting for the purposes of election propaganda; (iv) Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.
(v) Ministers and other authorities shall not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced by the Commission; and (vi) From the time elections are announced by Commission, Ministers and other authorities shall not (a) announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof, or (b) (except civil servants) lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind; or (c) make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc.; or (d) make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.
Note : The Commission shall announce the date of any election which shall be a date ordinarily not more than three weeks prior to the date on which the notification is likely to be issued in respect of such elections. (vii) Ministers of Central or State Government shall not enter any polling station or place of counting except in their capacity as a candidate or voter or authorized agent.
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