oppn parties Penalize Violators of Model Code of Conduct

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  • Flipkart assures employees that there will be no job or salary cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Although it was obvious, but the government still clarifies that there is no need to switch off appliances and only lights need to be switched off on April 5 at 9pm after confusion in the minds of some people
  • PM Modi and President Trump decide "to deploy full strength of (Indo-US) partnership" to fight against COVID-19
  • 17 states have reported 1023 cases of coronavirus linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, which translates to 30% of all positive cases in India
  • The government says people should not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before lighting diyas or candles on April 5
  • The railways say there is no certainty yet when services will resume after the lockdown and a final decision will be taken in the next few days
  • As coronavirus cases multiply in Assam, six north-east states seal their borders with the state
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. (POCOSO) putting all systems and protocols in place at war-footing to ensure there is no grid failure due to reduction in demand on April 5 at 9 pm
  • Power ministry scotches rumours that the power grid might fail due to the 9-minute blackout called by PM Modi on Sunday, April 5
  • Centre asks people to wear home-made masks if it is absolutely essential for them to step out of homes
  • Centre asks states to allow licensed street vendors to sell essential items
  • 8000 samples were tested across India on April 2, but the government said that testing will be need-based and will not be used as a confidence-boosting measure
  • Air India operating special flights to fly passengers stuck in India since the lockdown
  • For the first time in history, Darjeeling loses first flush tea due to suspension of garden work for Covid-19 outbreak
  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
Total count stands ar 3082 as India records 16 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in a single day
oppn parties
Penalize Violators of Model Code of Conduct

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-01-13 21:29:45

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Election Commission (EC) is truly a toothless body when it comes to its powers to restrain or punish politicians making speeches that violate the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The very first directive in the MCC elaborates on this aspect read the full MCC here. But the fact that the MCC is not legally enforceable and depends upon voluntary adherence by parties and candidates makes it worthless. Apart from censuring the offender, there is little the EC can do as per its present mandate. Due to this, the Indian political landscape is full of habitual offenders who time and again stir up public sentiments by making inflammatory remarks, secure in the knowledge that they will just get a rap on the knuckles. These remarks by such politicians have the potential of causing disharmony between communities and it can also lead to riots. Of course there are other criminal laws that can be used to book such offenders if things go out of hand, but since they are politicians fighting elections and the EC is mandated with all things connected to the conduct and supervision of elections, it must be empowered to deal with such instances in a way that acts as a deterrent.

The recent case of Sakshi Maharaj is a shining example of how politicians can get away by violating the MCC. Despite directly accusing the Muslim community of indulging in practices (4 marriages and 40 children, though not backed by facts) that were leading to a population explosion in India, he just escaped with a censure by the EC. This grossly undermines the position of the constitutional authority that the EC is. It also has no deterrent effect and encourages other politicians to violate the MCC with abandon. That is the main reason why public and political discourse in India is plumbing to newer depths each passing day. Hate speeches have become the norm. Making unsubstantiated corruption charges, like the one Rahul Gandhi made against Narendra Modi on the basis of the Sahara-Birla diaries though they were called worthless evidence by the Supreme Court, is also fast becoming the new normal. Some politicians are behaving like wild bulls (although the Hindi khula sand does more justice to what is being meant) and nothing is sacrosanct or improper public behavior for them. They act more like louts waiting for a street fight than enlightened people’s representative.

The present situation is like having a referee to conduct and supervise a sporting match without giving him the power to book players for playing rough or below the belt. It can lead to a free-for-all, greatly undermining the referee’s position. This is what is happening in Indian politics. There are no penalty cards in politics. There should be. The EC does not have the power to book those who hit below the belt. Sport generally has six different types of penalty cards to warn players that they are breaking the rules and are playing unethically. There are green, white, blue, yellow, red and black cards that are shown to book players who infringe the rules of the game. Each card carries a warning and/or a penalty depending upon the degree of infringement. A model code of conduct also exists in sports – sometimes unwritten. But it is backed by enforceable penalty. The same should be introduced in Indian politics. Till now, the EC has not been willing to take up the mantle as it will mire it in hundreds, maybe thousands, of court cases and stretch its already thin resources. But what one is suggesting is something that bypasses the court routine and penalizes the offenders purely through the electoral laws as enforced by the EC and backed by the constitution.

For instance, a first time offender can be issued a green card, warning him that he or she has transgressed the MCC. It can go up the stages and finally a red card can be issued when the offender has committed five such offences. The red card will automatically make him ineligible to stand for any elections, hold any public office, campaign for any candidate or be a member of any political party for the next five years. If a sitting representative makes repeat violations, in addition to all of the above, he must be made to resign his seat. The EC’s decision in this regard must be final and binding and any appeal must be made with a separate constitutional Appellate Authority established for this purpose and not in a court of law. Unless a strong deterrent is provided for, elections in India will soon become a farce and the strongest candidate – the one who can break all the rules – will emerge winner at all times. But none of the political parties, dependent as they are upon money and muscle power to fight elections, will ever agree to have such a system in place for it will threaten the very existence of most of them.