Manual on Model Code of Conduct (For the guidance of political parties and candidates) & other related guidelines


Gradually, since 1968, the Model Code of Conduct has come into being as an ethical code for candidates and political parties for the conduction of free and fair elections in India. This manual was released in March 2019 before the 17th general election. It provides a historical background on the development of the Code and detailed explanations on the scope and enforcement of all its eight sections.

This manual credits the state of Kerala for initiating the idea by its introduction of a code of conduct during elections to the state legislative assembly in February 1960. The idea was carried ahead in several states during the 1968 and 1969 mid-term general elections through a document titled Roles and Responsibilities of Political Parties during Elections: An Appear to Political Parties for the Observance of a Minimum Code of Conduct during Election Propaganda and Campaign.

The Election Commission released a revised Model Code of Conduct on January 1, 1974, which was circulated during the 1977 general elections. In September 1979, the Commission organized a convention of political parties to bring about a code that would also outline the role and behaviour of parties in power. Discussions from this convention informed the revised Model Code released before the 1979 elections to the Lok Sabha. This revised version had seven sections, one of which exclusively discussed the role of ruling parties in the States and at the Centre.

In accordance with the Supreme Court judgment on S. Subramanian Balaji v. the Government of Tamil Nadu & Others, an additional part eight was added to the Code in February 2014. It outlined regulations for election manifestos released by political parties.

The Model Code of Conduct is not a legally binding document and violation of it does not result in punitive action. However, many of the principles outlined in the Code are supported by related laws in the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The 312-page document contains 23 detailed chapters, 21 annexures and a list of 76 ‘frequently asked questions.’ The chapters are as follows: Historical background (Chapter 1); Status and scope of Model Code (Chapter 2); Enforcement of Model Code (Chapter 3); Special measures taken by Election Commission to enforce Model Code (Chapter 4); Announcement of new schemes – restriction on financial & administrative matters (Chapter 5); Publication of advertisements at cost of public exchequer (Chapter 6); Tours/visits of ministers/other dignitaries (Chapter 7); Restriction on electioneering during period of 48 hours before close of poll (Chapter 8); Display of photo/message on official website/govt. buildings/advertisements (Chapter 9); Use/requisition of vehicles (Chapter 10); Use/requisition of helicopters/aircrafts (Chapter 11); Use of grounds/public properties (Chapter 12); Use of national  flag/party banners (Chapter 13); Use of loudspeakers (Chapter 14); Printing of pamphlets/posters (Chapter 15); Defacement of public/private property (Chapter 16); Ban on sale of liquor (Chapter 17); Election manifestos (Chapter 18); Model Code and govt. officials (Chapter 19); Model Code during bye-election (Chapter 20); Model Code during biennial elections (Chapter 21); Miscellaneous (Chapter 22); and Landmark judgments on Model Code (Chapter 23).

Focus by Swadesha Sharma.


Election Commission of India, New Delhi


Election Commission of India, New Delhi


Mar, 2019