Election Commission Current Affairs
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Election Commission (EC) has announced that Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately in states where legislative assemblies have been dissolved prematurely. It also held that after dissolution caretaker government as well as the central government is barred from announcing new schemes in particular state from date of dissolution of legislative assembly till new House is elected.
Model Code of Conduct
MCC is set of guidelines issued by Election Commission to regulate conduct of political parties and their candidates in run up to elections. It is aimed at ensuring free and fair elections. The Code doesn’t have any statutory basis and not enforceable by law. But it has indisputable legitimacy and parties across the political spectrum have generally adhered to its letter and spirit. It was issued for first time in 1971 before 5th Lok Sabha elections. Since then, it has been issued before every central and state election and revised from time to time.
The main objective of MCC is to ensure level playing field for all political parties, prevent conflicts between parties, and ensure law and order in heat of election season. Its primary purpose is to ensure that ruling party does not misuse or use government machinery to its advantage for its election campaign purpose. It is applicable to political parties, their candidates and polling agents, government in power and all government employees.
Date of enforcement of MCC
It has evolved over years of tussle between EC and government. IT kicks in day EC announces the poll dates. This is based on agreement between EC and Central government reached on April 16, 2001. However, agreement imposes condition on EC that announcement cannot be more than three weeks before date of notification of polls. It was agreed that inauguration of any project will be done by civil servants so that MCC does not stand in the way of public interest.
Election Commission of India (EC) had removed NOTA (None of the Above) option from ballot papers of Rajya Sabha, Legislative Council elections following directive of Supreme Court. The NOTA option, henceforth will be only available in direct elections such as Lok Sabha and state assembly elections.
In August 2018, Supreme Court had said that NOTA will not be applicable as ballot option in Rajya Sabha polls. It will only continue to be option in direct elections such as Lok Sabha and state assemblies. It had quashed June 2014 notification of EC that allowed use of NOTA option in Rajya Sabha elections. It held that NOTA will destroy concept of value of vote and representation, and encourage defection that shall open doors for corruption which is malignant disorder. It also had held that NOTA was meant to be exercised by individual voters in direct polls.
NOTA is ballot option designed to allow voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system. It was introduced in 2013 after Supreme Court of India directed Election Commission to provide NOTA button in the electronic voting machines.
NOTA option was first used in 2013 assembly elections held in four States — Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. 2014 Lok Sabha election was first general election to see its nationwide use of NOTA, where it polled 1.1% of the votes.
NOTA is not right to reject i.e. candidate with maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled. Election Commission also has clarified that even though votes cast as NOTA are counted, they are considered as invalid votes so they will not change outcome of election process.