Model Code of Conduct Current Affairs - 2019

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Model Code of Conduct Kicks In

With the Election Commission of India announcing the polling dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force.

Model Code of Conduct

  • Model Code of Conduct refers to a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
  • A version of Model code of conduct was first introduced in the assembly elections in Kerala in 1960. These guidelines were largely followed by the political parties during the 1962 Lok Sabha Elections. Further in 1979 the Election Commission of India added a section to regulate the ‘party in power’ and prevent it from gaining an unfair advantage at the time of elections.
  • MCC comes into effect from the date the election schedule is announced and will be in force until the date that results are out.
  • MCC contains eight provisions dealing with general conduct, meetings, processions, polling day, polling booths, observers, the party in power, and election manifestos.
  • As soon as the MCC kicks in, the Central and State governments are bound to ensure that they doesn’t use their official position and status for campaigning.
  • Those in power cannot combine their official visits with those related to campaigning for the purpose of elections.

The biggest drawback of the MCC is lack of statutory backing. This imposes limitations on Election Commission to procced againt those violating the norms of MCC. Hence Election Commission is bound to use moral sanction or censure for its enforcement.

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Recommendations of Committee to revisit the Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act

The Committee headed Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha has submitted the report on revisiting the section 126 of the Representation of the People Act. The committee had nine officers from the Election Commission and one nominated member each from I&B Ministry, Law Ministry, IT Ministry, National Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India.

Recommendations of the Committee

The committee has made the following recommendations:

  • Amendment to the Model Code of Conduct to ensure that political parties release their manifesto at least 72 hours before voting ends in the first phase of polls.
  • The provision of election silence, which prohibits any form of poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting to be extended to cover print and social media, internet, cable channels and online version of print media.
  • Social media platforms should work with the EC to evolve a mechanism by which the latter can flag content violating electoral law and social media sites can take it down as soon as possible.
  • EC should issue directions to private cable TV channels to follow NBSA guidelines for election broadcasts during the poll period.

The recommendations when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act Prohibits public meetings during period of forty-eight hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of the poll.

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