Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates


The Model Code of Conduct is “a set of norms which have been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code.” The candidates and parties are expected to observe these norms in letter as well as spirit.

Under Article 324 of the Constitution of India namely ‘Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission’, the Election Commission ensures that candidates and parties observe the code and help in the conduction of “free, fair and peaceful elections.”

This Code comes into force on the day the Election Commission announces the schedule of the election and stays in operation till the election process is complete. During general elections to the Lok Sabha, the code is applicable in the entire country and during elections to the state legislative assemblies, it is enforced in the applicable states. In the event of bye-elections, the code is enforced in the entire district within which the constituency falls.

The Code presently has eight different sections outlining conduct norms. The following are excerpts from seven of the eight sections. The eighth section ‘Guidelines on Election Manifesto’ was added after the Supremes Court’s 2013 judgement in the case of S. Subramanian Balaji v. Government of Tamil Nadu.

In March 2019, the Election Commission released a 312-page Manual of Model Code of Conduct with a history of the Code and details regarding the composition and enforcement of the principles enshrined within. 

General Conduct: (1) No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic […]

(3) There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda.

Meetings: (1) The party or candidate shall inform the local police authorities of the venue and time [of] any proposed meeting well in time so as to enable the police to make necessary arrangements for controlling traffic and maintaining peace and order.

Procession: (7) The political parties or candidates shall exercise control to the maximum extent possible in the matter of processionists carrying articles which may be put to misuse by undesirable elements especially in moments of excitement.

(8) The carrying of effigies purporting to represent member of other political parties or their leaders, burning such effigies in public and such other forms demonstration shall not be countenanced by any political party or candidate.

Polling Day: All political parties and candidates shall […]

(iii) agree that the identity slip supplied by them to voters shall be on plain (white) paper and shall not contain any symbol, name of the candidate or the name of the party;

(iv) refrain from serving or distributing liquor on polling day and during the forty-eight hours preceding it […]

(vi) ensure that the candidate’s camps shall be simple. The [sic] shall not display any posters, flags, symbols or any other propaganda material. No eatable shall be served or crowd allowed at the camps

Polling Booth: Excepting the voters, no one without a valid pass from the Election Commission shall enter the polling booths.

Observers: The Election Commission is appointing Observers. If the candidates or their agents have any specific complaint or problem regarding the conduct of elections they may bring the same to the notice of the Observer.

Party in Power: The party in power whether at the Centre or in the State or States concerned, shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign and in particular –

(i) (a) The Ministers shall not combine their official visit with electioneering work and shall not also make use of official machinery or personnel during the electioneering work.

      (b) Government transport including official air-crafts, vehicles, machinery and personnel shall not be used for furtherance of the interest of the party in power […]

(iv) Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.

(vi) From the time elections are announced by Commission, Ministers and other authorities shall not –

(a) announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof; or

(b) (except civil servants) lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind; or

(c) make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc; or

(d) make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, Public Undertakings etc. which have the effect of influencing voters in favour of the party in power. 

Focus by Swadesha Sharma.


Election Commission of India, New Delhi


Election Commission of India, New Delhi