Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 26 March 2019


Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam


UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. What is the philosophy behind the model code of conduct in India? Discuss its evolution over the years. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • The philosophy behind MCC
  • Evolution of the MCC
  • Challenges faced by MCC
  • Measures & conclusion

Introduction:

Model code of conduct is the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. It aims to ensure free and fair elections.

The philosophy behind MCC:

  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a consensus document.
  • In other words, political parties have themselves agreed to keep their conduct during elections in check, and to work within the Code.
  • The philosophy behind the MCC is that parties and candidates should show respect for their opponents, criticize their policies and programmes constructively, and not resort to mudslinging and personal attacks.
  • The MCC is intended to help the poll campaign maintain high standards of public moralityand provide a level playing field for all parties and candidates.
  • Adherence to the Codeis most important for the government or party in power, because it is they who can skew the level playing field by taking decisions that can help them in the elections.
  • At the time of the Lok Sabha elections, both the Union and state governments are covered under the MCC.

Evolution of the MCC:

  • Keralawas the first state to adopt a code of conduct for elections. In 1960, ahead of the Assembly elections, the state administration prepared a draft code that covered important aspects of electioneering such as processions, political rallies, and speeches.
  • The experiment was successful, and the Election Commission decided to emulate Kerala’s example and circulate the draft among all recognised parties and state governments for the Lok Sabha elections of 1962.
  • In 1968, ECI held meetings with political parties at State level and circulated the Code of Conduct to observe minimum standard of behavior to ensure free and fair elections.
  • In 1971-72, during General Election to the House of the People/State Legislative Assemblies ECI circulated the Code again.
  • At the time of general elections to some State Assemblies in 1974ECIissued the code of conduct to the political parties in those States.
  • ECI also suggested constituting committees at district level headed by the District Collector and comprising representatives of political parties as members for considering cases of violation of the code and ensuring its compliance by all parties and candidates.
  • For the 1977 Lok Sabha general election, the Code was again circulated to the political parties.
  • In 1979, ECI in consultation with the political parties further amplified the code, adding a new Section placing restrictions on the “Party in power” so as to prevent cases of abuse of position of power to get undue advantage over other parties and candidates.
  • In 1991, the code was consolidated and re-issued in its present form. The MCC has been revised on several occasions since then. The last time this happened was in 2014, when the Commission introduced Part VIII on manifestos, pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court.

Challenges faced:

  • EC does not have a mechanism to monitor Social Media and coordinate with Internet companies to take down impermissible content.
  • Expenditure on advertisement done on Social Media is not yet under ambit of MCC.
  • The code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect.
  • The complaint that the MCC is coming in the way of developmental activities leading to socio-economic injustice.

Measures & Conclusion:

  • MCC should be provided with statutory backing. It should be made a part of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to make the MCC more powerful.
  • Establishment of special fast track courtsto solve the MCC violation cases at a faster rate.
  • The law commission recommendationsshould be implemented to save the unnecessary spending of public money during elections.
  • Public awarenessabout MCC needs to be developed. The use of app like cVIGIL should be encouraged to reduce violations during polls.
  • Stakeholders including Internet companies should come up with a code for Social Media and Internet.
  • MCC has an indisputable legitimacyand parties across the political spectrum have generally adhered to its letter and spirit. The immaculate independence of the EC and its uncompromising attitude towards enforcing the code, combined with the perception among parties that following the code far outweighs the costs accrued if violated by other parties, especially the ruling one, have led to the success of the MCC since its inception.

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