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What is Model Code of Conduct?
Mar 06, 2014

Free and fair elections form the bed rock of democracy. This envisages a level playing field for the contestants and an equal opportunity for all parties for presenting their policies and programmes to voters.  In this context the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) gains relevance. The MCC intends to provide a level playing field for all political parties, keep the campaign fair and healthy, avoid clashes and conflicts between parties, and ensure peace and order. It aims to ensure that the ruling party, either at the Centre or in the states, does not misuse its official position to gain an unfair advantage in an election. This instrument is a major contribution of Indian electoral system to the cause of democracy.

The MCC is a set of norms for conduct and behaviour on the part of the parties and candidates, in particular. The uniqueness of the MCC is the fact that this was a document that originated and evolved with the consensus of the political parties. 

The origin of the MCC dates back to 1960 when the MCC started as a small set of Dos and Don’ts for the Assembly election in Kerala in 1960. The Code covered conducting of election meetings/processions, speeches, slogans, posters and placards. In 1962 Lok Sabha General Elections, the Commission circulated this code to all the recognized political parties and the State Governments were requested to secure the acceptance of the MCC by the parties.. Report received after the 1962 general election showed that the MCC was followed by and large. In 1967, the MCC was followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections..

Legal Status: There is an opinion in certain quarters for providing legal status to MCC. The Election Commission has, however, taken a stand against granting of such status to MCC. According to the Commission bringing the MCC on the statute book will only be counter-productive. In our country, elections are conducted within a very limited time span according to a well laid down schedule. Normally, a general election in a State is completed in about 45 days, from the day of announcement of the election schedule by the Commission.  Thus, the expedition and promptness in dealing with the cases of violation of the MCC is of the essence.  If no timely action is taken to curb the violations and against the violators of the model code during the limited period when the election process is on, the whole significance of the MCC would be lost and the violator would be able to reap the benefit of such violation. If the model code of conduct is converted into a law, this would mean that a complaint would lie to the police/Magistrate. The procedures involved in judicial proceedings being what they are, a decision on such complaints would most likely come only long after the election is completed.  

No Hindrance in Developmental activities: One often gets to hear the complaint that the MCC is coming in the way of developmental activities. However, even during the short period when MCC is in operation, the ongoing development activities are not stopped and are allowed to proceed unhindered, and only the new projects, etc. which have not taken off on the ground that have to  be deferred till the completion of elections.  If there is any work that cannot wait for any reason (relief work on account of any calamity, etc), the matter can be referred to the Commission for clearance. 


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