Polity and Governance

Model Code of Conduct

Introduction
•Election Commission took various actions against the politicians under Model Code of Conduct
•Leaders like Maneka Gandhi, Ajam Khan, Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati etc. were banned from electioneering for a specified period
•No action against PM was questioned by opposition parties
•Election Commission dissent not recorded in the ECI order
 
Dissent within Election Commission
•Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa wrote thrice to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora conveying his decision to stay away from proceedings related to the MCC if the dissenting views were not incorporated in the orders.
•The Election Commission, however, decided by a majority of 2:1, that dissenting opinions in Model Code of Conduct (MCC) disputes will not be made part of any final order and will only be included in internal files, as per previous practice.
•Hence, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa will continue to recuse himself from the proceedings related to MCC complaints.
 
What is Model Code of Conduct (MCC)
•MCC is a set of guidelines laid down by the Election Commission to govern the conduct of political parties and candidates during an election.
•Article 324 of the Constitution, empowers Election Commission the power to supervise elections to the Parliament and state legislatures.
•MCC comes into force the moment an election is announced and remains in force till the results are declared.
 
Legal Status of Model Code
•MCC is not enforceable by law.
•It can be enforced only by invoking relevant provisions in other statutes like the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Representation of the People Act, 1951.
•The Election Commission has argued against making the MCC legally binding since elections are to be completed within a relatively short time while judicial proceedings takes lots of time. 
•In 2013, the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, recommended making the MCC legally binding and the MCC be made a part of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
 
History of MCC
•MCC was for the first time adopted or observed by political parties during the general elections to the State Legislative of Kerela in February 1960 .
•In the Lok Sabha elections in 1962, the ECI circulated the code to all recognised political parties and State governments.
•Implementation of MCC up to 1991 was only nominal.
•MCC was used extensively by after TN Sheshan became the Chief Election Commission in 1991
 
Challenges of MCC
•MCC is enforced by Election Commission of India (ECI)
•ECI are appointed by the Government in power. Hence, they are often loyal to the government that appointed them
•MCC is not legally enforceable
•The misuse of the media is difficult to check
•Election Commission has little staff under its disposal. They rely on the officials of State and Central Government only for enforcement.
•Misuse of social media is difficult to be curbed
•Difficult to take action against the misuse of national security issues for political purpose
 
Suggestions
•Selection of Election Commission must involve the Supreme Court Judge and Leader of opposition
•MCC must be made an enforceable law
•Election Commission must be empowered to take immediate action to enforce MCC
•Powers like search, seizure and arrest may be given to ECI and its officers
•The order to the EC must incorporate the dissent note, if any



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