With announcement of elections dates for Nagaland, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in the state starting January 18. A press note from the Nagaland State Chief Electoral Officer detailed the various directives as part of the code.
The commission dissuaded Ministers from combining their official visit with electioneering work and not to make use of official machinery or personnel during electioneering work. Government transport including official aircrafts, vehicles, machinery and personnel are also not to be used for furtherance of the interest of the party in power.
The code prescribes that public places for holding election meetings, and use of helipads for air- flights in connection with elections shall not be monopolized, and that other parties and candidates should be allowed the use of such places on equal terms. The same applies to rest houses, dak bungalows or other government accommodation. These places are however off limits to be used as a campaign office or for holding any public meeting for the purpose of election propaganda.
Advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in 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 is also to be avoided.
It also directs Ministers and other authorities not to sanction grants/ payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced by the Commission. From such a time, Ministers and others authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof; or (except civil servants) lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind: or make any ad-hoc appointments in Government, public undertakings etc. which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.
Further the code directs that no advertisements highlighting the achievement of the government at the cost of public exchequer should be published, or stopped forthwith and withdrawn.
Ban on transfer of officers
The Commission has also directed a total ban on the transfer of all officers/officials connected with the conduct of the election.
These include but are not restricted to:- Chief Electoral Officer and Additional/ Joint/ Deputy Chief Electoral Officers; Divisional Commissioners; District Election Officers, Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers and other Revenue Officers connected with the Conduct of Election; Officers of the Police Department connected with the management of election like range IGs and DIGs, Senior Superintendents of Police and Superintendents of Police, Sub- Divisional Police Officers like Deputy Superintendents of Police and other Police Officers who are deputed to the Commission under section 28A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Transfer orders prior to the date of announcement but not implemented till date should not be given effect to without obtaining specific permission from the Commission. This ban shall be effective till the due Constitution Notification constituting the new Houses is issued in the respective States.
The Commission further directed that the State Government should refrain from making transfer of senior officers who have a role in the management of election in the State.
In those cases where transfer of an officer is necessary on account of administrative exigencies, the state government may with full jurisdiction approach the Commission for prior clearance.
Restriction on fund release under Local Area Development Schemes
The Commission also directs that no fresh release of funds under MP including Rajya Sabha members- Local Area Development Fund shall be made in any part of the state where election is in progress.
Similarly no fresh release of funds under the MPs/ MLAs Local Area Development Fund shall be made, if any such is in operation, till the completion of election process.
In addition no work may be started for which the work order had been issued, but where the work has actually not started in the field. Such works can be started after the completion of the election process. However, where the work has already started, the work can continue.
Further there shall be no bar to the release of payments for completed work(s) subject to the full satisfaction of the concerned officials.
Use of Vehicles
Official vehicles cannot be used for electioneering work. These include vehicles belonging to the Central Government, State Government, Public Undertakings of the Central and State Government, Joint Sector Undertakings of the Central and State Government, Local Bodies, Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Marketing Boards (by whatever name known), Cooperative Societies, Autonomous District Councils, or any other body in which public funds, howsoever small a portion of the total, are invested; and vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Defense and the Central Police Organizations under the Ministry of Home Affairs and State Commission.