The Election Commission has brushed aside arguments that the model code of conduct brings governance to a halt during polls, saying it only bars governments from announcing fresh projects and schemes during the period. The poll watchdog also told the Law Commission that as and when government departments approach it with ‘references’ to clear proposals and schemes during poll time, it takes a fast decision understanding the urgency involved. The issue of model code of conduct came up for elaborate discussion at a meeting between the top brass of EC and law panel here on May 16 when they met to discuss the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
When members of the law panel asked the EC about the “argument” that the model code brings governance to a halt, the poll panel rejected the suggestion outrightly, sources aware of the deliberations said. The EC was of the view that the code does not bring governance to a halt. It said the code only bars announcement and launch of new schemes and projects so that voters are not influenced by the party in power. It also told the law panel that “it works with alacrity” when government departments seek its permission to go ahead with certain decisions during model code period. It said several ‘references’ are received by it and it tries to dispose most on them in a time-bound manner. The law panel has now asked EC to give it a list of references received from governments during recent elections, including those held in Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka.
The Model Code of Conduct is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by it and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit. The Election Commission ensures that it is followed by parties and candidates. It is also ensured that official machinery is not misused to help the ruling party. The model code is enforced from the date of announcement of election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections are completed, which is usually a couple of days after the verdict is announced.