The Election Commission of India has intimated that Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines evolved by the Commission with consensus of political parties for the smooth conduct of free and fair election in the country. As the Model Code of Conduct does not have a statutory backing many of its provisions are not legally enforceable and hence not legally punishable. Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister of Law & Justice, however, said there are certain provisions in the Model Code of Conduct, the violation of which also constitutes violation of some provisions in the election laws and/ or the Code of Criminal Procedure. The violations are punishable in a court of law. In cases of, inter-alia, violation of Model Code of Conduct by a political party, the Commission can, after giving reasonable opportunity of showing cause, subject to such terms as the Commission may deem appropriate, either suspend or withdraw the recognition of a party as a National or State Party, as the case may be. In case of individual candidates or leaders of political parties, the Commission may take action, if deemed appropriate, under the residuary powers available to it under Article 324 of the Constitution which includes censure against person who is guilty of violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Shri Khurshid further informed the House that the Election Commission of India has intimated that Model Code of Conduct being a voluntary set of guidelines given by the political parties unto themselves, there is no penal provision mentioned therein. The Commission takes remedial action for violations of the Model Code of Conduct and in appropriate cases may express and convey its displeasure against the violators in the form of reprimand or censure and advising them to be careful in future.