Lok Sabha Election 2019-Model Code of Conduct: The Introduction
By Digshika Priyadarshini
On 10th of March 2019, Election Commission of India announced date of Lok Sabha Elections and with the announcement Model Code of Conduct (MCC) also comes into force. This announcement made by the CEC Sunil Arora. In the press conference Mr. Sunil Arora announced that the election will complete in Seven Phases from 11th of April to 19th May, 2019 and result will be declared on23rd May. With the announcement EC also called on all the parties in nation to follow the MCC.
With Lok Sabha Elections Assembly election of four State Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha also held simultaneously. The Assembly election of Jammu & Kashmir would not have held with Lok Sabha election.
· According to the MCC political parties cannot use any photo and other material which is related to the national armed forces in any manner.
· The Election Commission of India also advice the political parties and candidates to refrain from using any animal for the political and election campaign.
· The efforts for this has been taken by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal, (PETA) India and considered by ECI (The Election Commission of India).
· Previously in 2013 State Election Commission of Maharashtra also prohibited the use of donkey, bulls, cow and elephant during election campaign.
· There is limit also imposed on the expenditure incurred by the candidates for their election campaign i.e. 50 lakhs to 70 Lakh per candidate according to State. (only in Lok Sabha Election)
· Use of VVPAT at all polling booth for fair and transparent election is adopted.
The Model Code of Conduct
The Model Code of Conduct (Achaar Samhita) is a general guideline which gives general conduct and behaviours of candidates, political parties, and government in power in election campaigning. It is a code which laid down basic behavioural, moral and ethical obligation on the persons, parties and the incumbent government to avoid bad language, name calling, hate speech and others. It restricts the party in power to misuse its position and restrict it to announce any new policy, scheme and decision. As well as it also disallows politician, ministers and person in power to use money of government for their personal election campaign. Use of official transport, official tour and meeting for the election campaign is prohibited. Though it has no great sanction but it imposes ethical and moral duty on political parties and candidates to adhere it. Because personal character always important to a leader and representative of people it has relevance.
In 1968 Chief Election Commissioner Shri S.P. Sen Verma held a meeting with the all political parties and suggested minimum stander of conduct of candidate and political parties during election.
First time The Model Code of Conduct was introduced in the State Assembly Election of Kerala in the year 1960. It was largely followed by political parties in 1962’s Election. In 1979, Election Commission, in consultation with the political parties further amplified the code, adding a new Section placing restrictions on the “Party in power” so as to prevent cases of abuse of position of power to get undue advantage over other parties and candidates. At that time Shri S.L. Shakhdar was Chief Election Commissioner of India.
Legal Status of Model Code of Conduct
There was some opinion for providing legal status to the Code of Conduct but due to the expeditious decision and remedies it would be better to remain it is a code of ethical practice to the parties and candidates. The Election Commission of India is also not in Support to give statutory status to the MCC. The reason for not converting MCC as law is that if it becomes Law than complaint should be filed before police or magistrate and then procedure start. It is a lengthy and time-consuming process and thus the relevance of MCC ended up.
But MCC has some authenticity in eyes of Law and election commission relied on it. Candidates and parties also follow it for high moral image in the eyes of voters and to get benefit of it. If any violation of MCC is caused by any person or party than is mandatory to give reply for the conduct in writing in the EC. T.N. Seshan was the 10th CEC of India form 1990- 1996. He is known for his reform policies in the election and strict decision. He also redefined the status and authority of Election Commission of India.
Thou shalt not:
· Bribe or intimidate voters.
· Distribute liquor during the elections.
· Use official machinery for campaigning.
· Appeal to voters' caste or communal feelings.
· Use places of worship for campaigns.
· Use loudspeakers without prior written permission.
In the Union of India Vs. Harbans Sigh Jalal and Others [SLP (Civil) No.22724 of 1997)] decided on 26.04.2001 the MCC got judicial recognition by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The apex court gave the ruling that the Code of Conduct would come into force the moment the Commission issues the press release, which precedes the notification by a good two weeks. This ruling lay at rest the controversy related to the dates of enforcement of MCC. Thus, the MCC remains in force from the date of announcement of elections till the completion of elections.
Development practices are allowed during MCC enforced:
Any welfare and development practice by the government can be enforced. The reason for not restricting the government from this is only the in-India Government is elected for the term of Five year and during the election and code of conduct it also works for the people of India. Therefore, it will be unfair for the people of India to not provide them any welfare and developmental practices and benefit.
In Dr. Nutan Thakur Vs. Election Commission of India the hon’ble Allahabad High Court Lucknow Bench dated 16.02.2012 held that ‘It shall not be out of place to mention that after election, peoples’ representatives discharge their obligation almost for a period of five years. The elections are held at the fag end of their tenure unless the assembly or Parliament is suspended or dissolved earlier. While holding the office, it is always obligatory on the part of the peoples’ representative to discharge their obligation honestly and fairly to serve the nation. In case they failed to discharge their obligation during their entire term while in office or in opposition, then making statement as a measure of allurement or appeasement to the peoples after issuance of Election Notification, shall be nothing but an instance of unfair practice on their part.’
The Model Code of Conduct is imposed high moral and ethical values and responsibility. this the only way to judge the candidate and political party the how extent they follow the guideline of a Constitutional establishment the Chief Election Commission of India. So, the election express is arrived on the platform and voters are ready, but be careful and alert. Choose the correct destination where freedom is ensured, security, health, education, employment and basic need of life should ensure.
At the end read, analysis and discuss the policies and service of current government and also manifesto of all political parties and candidates and cast your vote.