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Model Code of Conduct (MCC) UPSC NOTE


  • In recent years, and particularly during the campaign to the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, critics of the ECI have accused the body of being late or ineffective or partial in responding to alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC)

  • ECI has a lot of powers to act to ensure that elections are free and fair. 

  • So, it is not necessary to give legal teeth to the MCC

The hurdles

  • Supreme Court in one of its judgments observed that the ECI has a reservoir of powers under Article 324, it is only in respect of areas where there is a legislative vacuum. 

  • This is not an all-comprehensive power

  • The ECI is entitled to exercise this power without appealing to any other outside body, but even here, the restriction is that it has to be within the framework of the Constitution and the RPA

  • It is not as if the ECI has got extraordinary powers to go beyond the provisions of law. 

  • The ECI is accountable for its decisions in exercise of such power.

  • The main purpose of the MCC is to ensure a level playing field and ensure that elections take place in a free and fair manner

  • But the problem is that the MCC is only a code

  • Once it finds a violation, if the ECI can book them under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or under the RPA, or file an FIR, that will take months and years to be decided by the courts. 

  • Moreover, the police which functions under the State government will be taking action against such complaints depending upon which party comes to power.

  • And if there are other violations not covered by the IPC or the RPA, all that the ECI can do is, say, ban a candidate from campaigning

  • But it has no wide-ranging powers as people assume, and that is where the problem lies

  • Paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols Order, 1968 however reads, if there is a violation of the MCC, the ECI can even derecognise or temporarily suspend the recognition given to a party

  • So, it is not that the that the ECI does not have or cannot exercise its authority

  • But if the ECI starts withdrawing the symbol for various violations that political parties are indulging in, most of the parties are likely to lose their symbol at one stroke. 

  • It cannot be invoked in all cases; it can only be invoked in very serious cases

  • Among the candidates and political parties, mere fear of withdrawal of the symbol or filing an FIR doesn’t work.

  • The point is whether the ECI is using all its powers to deal with situations where senior political leaders while campaigning seem to be violating the MCC. 

  • Whether the ECI (in such situations) is acting effectively and applying the MCC and its regulatory aspect uniformly to all the people, whatever position they may hold politically or otherwise, is the question that needs to be debated.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Model Code of Conduct (MCC) UPSC NOTE
Model Code of Conduct (MCC) UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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