Model Code Of Conduct (MCC)

Why is it in News?

Due to the coming General Elections, Election Commission of India (ECI) has convened an all party meeting to discuss the MCC.

Aim of MCC:

  • It aims to provide a level playing field to all the contestants of the election.

Historical Background of MCC:

  • In 1960, the State Administration of Kerala decided that they will neither use state machinery during elections nor will resort to any activity that will amount to bribing. Seeing this, ECI thought that this model of moral behaviour during elections can be replicated on an all India basis and ECI first implemented this model during the 1979 elections.
  • This MCC document was revised and got its present form under the stewardship of then ECI chairman Shri T.N.Seshan.

What is MCC?

  • The model code refers to a set of norms laid down by the Election Commission of India, with the consensus of political parties.
  • It is not statutory. It spells out the dos and don’ts for elections. Political parties, candidates and polling agents are expected to observe the norms, on matters ranging from the content of election manifestos, speeches and processions, to general conduct, so that free and fair elections take place.

When is the MCC enforced?

The code comes into force on the announcement of the poll schedule and remains operational till the election results are declared.

What are Provisions under MCC?

  • No appeals shall be made to vote on the basis of caste, religion etc.
  • Ministers shall not combine their official visit with election visit.
  • No new policy shall be announced.
  • No personal attacks shall be made; criticism shall be done on policies etc.

If MCC has no Legal Backing then how does it enforce its Provisions?

  • Say, a person asks for a vote on the basis of religion or caste, then this act is dealt with the provisions mentioned in the Representation of People Act 1951. Act of bribery is dealt with the provisions under IPC etc.
  • But if the government announces a new scheme, then there is no tool available with the ECI to curtail that move as it does not having any legal backing in such a case. Seeing this, some experts believe that provisions of MCC are enforced by Moral Authority of Leaders and hence sometimes it is called as the Moral Code of Conduct.

Is Legal Backing to MCC Need of the Hour?

  • Undoubtedly, legal backing will provide more teeth to ECI in enforcing the provisions of MCC, but at the same time it will delay the whole process as matters will start going to the courts.
  • Thus after 2012, ECI has stopped asking for legal backing for MCC.

Source: TH