What are the key restrictions imposed by the model code of conduct during elections?

Published: June 6, 2019

The Model Code of Conduct which comes into force during the election season refers to the various regulations spelt by the Election Commission of India with consideration by the political parties. It is not statutory in origin but all the stakeholders in an election are required to follow all the norms especially in regards to the election manifestos, speeches and even processions. It was first enforced in 1960 in Kerala Assembly elections. The Code comes in force every time the schedule for the elections is announced and remains in place till the whole process is concluded. It also remains in case of a caretaker government if a State Assembly has been dissolved before the completion of the tenure.
The primary restrictions which come under the aegis of the code include the enumerating casteism, inciting communal feelings, creating an atmosphere of division on basis of religion or languages. Bribing of voters or even intimidating them, distribution of liquor, impersonating the voters, etc. are all restricted. Also, the ruling parties at the Centre or in states should not use their power to influence people or for campaigning. No official policy, financial grants, etc. which can have a direct impact on changing voter behaviour is banned. This has been highly helpful in making the whole electoral process free and fair.

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