India issues ‘model code of conduct’ for political parties and candidates

India issues ‘model code of conduct’ for political parties and candidates

As India awaits the 2019 parliamentary elections, the model code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of India has come into force. Political parties and candidates must abide by the guidelines issued in this document.

Here’s a list of the various provisions:

General Conduct

(1) Political parties and candidates must cease from acting in a way that might exacerbate the existing differences or create some kind of tension or mutual hatred between the different castes, communities, linguistic groups and religions.

(2) Any criticism towards other political parties must be restricted to their programs and policies, past performance and work. No party or candidate can indulge in criticizing any aspect of private life that is in no way connected to the leader or worker’s public activities. Also no criticism can be made based on unsubstantiated allegations or distortion.

(3) No party or candidate can appeal to the caste or communal feelings of the voters. For the purpose of election propaganda, no place of worship or a religions place like mosque, church or temple can be used.

(4) All parties and candidates must refrain from any acts of corruption like bribing the voters, conducting meetings within 48 hours close to the poll, canvassing within 100 meters of the polling booths, and providing conveyance facility for the voters to and from the polling booth.

(5) The right of every individual to enjoy a peaceful domestic life must be respected though the political parties and candidates could resent their political ideas or activities. Under no circumstances any demonstration or picketing can be organized in front of the houses of individuals.

6) Political parties and candidates must never permit their followers to use any person’s land, wall, or building without their permission for erecting flag staffs, tying banners writing slogans or pasting notices.

(7) Political parties and candidates must not allow their supporters to obstruct or disturb the processions or meetings organized by other parties. No party or candidate can organize a procession or meeting in the vicinity of the meetings organized by other political parties. Posters stuck by a party must not be removed by other parties.

II. Meetings

(1) Well in advance before organizing a meeting, the concerned political party or candidate must inform the police in order to arrange for traffic control and to maintain law and order.

(2) Before holding a meeting, the organizers must make sure if any restrictions or prohibitions are in force in the place proposed for the meeting. If any exemptions are needed, they must applied for well in advance.

(3) The party or candidate must apply for the license or permission for the use of loud speakers or other facilities in the venue of the meeting to the concerned authorities.

(4) Meeting organizers can get the assistance of the police to deal with the elements creating disturbances to the meeting or causing disorder of some kind.

III. Processions

(1)The timings, route and place of a procession must be finalized in advance and necessary permissions be obtained. Once this is done, there must not be any deviations.

The organizers must inform the local police regarding the processions so that the required arrangements can be made.

(3) The organizers must make sure if any restrictions are in force through which the procession must pass through. They must strictly adhere to the traffic regulations if any.

(4) The organizers must ensure that the procession does not cause hindrance or blocks the traffic. Long processions must be segmented to avoid congestions at junctions and roads.

(5) As much as possible, the processions must be organized on the right side of the road. The advice of the police must be followed.

(6) If two or more political processions happen in the same route around the same time, a coordination must be achieved under the guidance of the police in a way not to cause disturbance to the public and traffic.

(7) The political parties or candidates must ensure that the articles carried in a procession are not misused under excitement.

(8) Carrying effigies representing the leaders of other political parties or burning them must never be approved.

IV. Polling Day

All political parties and candidates must -

(i) Cooperate with the election officers to make the polling peaceful and orderly in a way letting the voters exercise their franchise without any disturbance.

(ii) Supply badges or identity cards to their authorized workers.

(iii) Ensure that the identity slips supplied to voters are on plain paper without any symbol or name of the party or candidate

(iv) Desist from distributing liquor on the polling day or during the 24 hours preceding it

(v) Never allow crowds to gather around the camps of the parties that could result in any kind of tensions or clashes

(vi) Keep the camps simple without the display of any symbols, posters or any propaganda material

(vii) Abide by the restrictions in place for the movements of vehicles, obtain permits and display the permits on the vehicles used

V. Polling Booth

Except the voters, none should enter the polling booth without a valid pass issued by the election commission.

VI Observers

Any complaints or problems with regard to the conduct of elections can be informed to the observers appointed by the election commission.

VII Party in power

The Party in power must not give any room for any complaints that its official position is used for the purpose of elections in any of the following ways

(i) (a) The Ministers must not club their election work with official works and must not use the official machinery for the election work.

(b) Government vehicles and personnel must not be used in the interest of the party in power.

(ii) Public places and helipads must not be monopolized by the party in power.

(iii) Rest houses, dak bungalows and other Government facilities must not be monopolized by the party in power.

(iv) No advertisement can be made at the cost of public exchequer in the media or newspapers. The official mass media must not be misused for political news and publicity by the party in power.

(v) Once the election dates are announced, ministers or authorities must not sanction grants/payments from discretionary funds

(vi) Once the election dates are announced, Ministers and other authorities must not –

(a) make any financial grants of any kind or make promises thereof

(b) lay foundation stones for any schemes or projects

(c) promise the construction of roads or making other facilities

(d) make any appointments in public or government works

Which could impact the voters to favor the party in power.

Note: The Election Commission shall announce the date of elections three weeks before the date on which the polling is scheduled.

(vii) ministers must never enter any polling booth or place of counting excepting in their authority as a voter or an authorized agent.