he 2019 Lok Sabha elections are ongoing and the Indian political leaders especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi is moving freely despite facing numerous serious allegations of the Model Code of Conduct violation. 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. We, the common people, come to know about the Model Code of Conduct with the help of the Election commission site but we do not come to know how to make a complaint against the violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Just because common people do not know much about how to make grievance against the violation of Model Code of Conduct, they just watch and ignore. PM Narendra Modi and his leaders are blatantly disrupting the Model Code of Conduct.
From NaMo TV to a biopic on Modi, maybe the interview with cine stars and TV-Radio speeches, all are in controversy over its legality and ownership. The opposition parties have alleged that these are “brazen violation” of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The code basically runs on the goodwill of the contesting parties and candidates, to follow the guidelines and is fundamentally enrolled on principles and ethics, to uphold the faith and dignity of democracy. However, a lot of contemplation has been going on over the Election Commission of India (ECI) actually penalising the violators. What we need to know here is that these codes of conduct are not necessarily bound by legal framework and hence, penalising the parties or candidates does not sustain much of an imposition. The MCC is not admissible in the court of law as a wholesome rulebook with penalties accorded. Warnings from CEC or the EC are mostly the first and the last step in curbing these violations and in most cases, these complaints are suspended. However, certain provisions of the MCC can be administered legally by soliciting corresponding provisions in other ordinances. The violations need to conjure with statutes under the Indian Penal Code 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and Representation of the People Act, 1951. In case of violation, the ECI commonly sends a “show cause notice” to the alleged party asking for valid reasoning as to why action is not to be taken against them, within the given time log. Failing this, the concerned party shall have to comply with proceedings of the ECI based on the previous merits of the complaint. The ECI further appoints a committee to evaluate the conduct of the alleged party. With that being said, the ECI still does not have a judicial hand to penalise the violators.
Recently, the EC had issued a notice seeking a report from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on NaMo TV. In its reply, the ministry has reportedly said that it is an advertisement platform, launched by DTH service providers, which does not require government nod. Moreover, not only NaMo TV but the comic books to scripted interviews, everything needs the EC’s attention but the EC is toothless right now. No party or candidate shall include in any activity, which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic. Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and Candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided. There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples, or other places of worship shall not be used as a forum for election propaganda.
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 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of the poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from polling station. 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. 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.
Political parties and candidates shall ensure that their supporters do not create obstructions in or break up meetings and processions organised by other parties. Workers or sympathisers of one political party shall not create disturbances at public meetings organised by another political party by putting questions orally or in writing or by distributing leaflets of their own party. One party along with places at which another party holds meetings shall not take out processions. Workers of another party shall not remove posters issued by one party. If coaxing and cajoling voters are barred, it stands to reason that using henchmen to threaten the populace, and capturing booths can get them arrested. The Election Commission’s officials should lodge complaints against these individuals or entities. While the MCC lacks statutory backing, the EC can use police machinery to enforce the code. Even if you aren’t very fond of any party, spare a thought for the Election Commission which is working so hard to make sure that you get the right to exercise your franchise in a free and fair manner.
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