Can a candidate, who is standing for elections, upload any kind of political content from his own Facebook account?

Yes, any political content in the form of messages, comments, photos or videos uploaded on the candidate’s own blogs, websites or social media accounts will not be treated as political advertisements and therefore would not require pre-certification under the law by the Media and Monitoring Committees.1

  1.  Use of Social Media in Election Campaigning and ECI’s Social Media Policy, Gist of Instructions, Page 87, point (ii), Compendium of Instruction on Media Related Matters, https://observerseci.eci.nic.in/Instruction/MediaPaid%20News%20Compendium%202017.pdf. []

How does Google regulate political advertising and campaigning in India?

In India, Google specifies certain kinds of advertisements as election ads:

  • Those that feature a political party, a political candidate or current member of the Lok Sabha,
  • Any ads that are run by a political party, political candidate, or a current member of the Lok Sabha. Advertisements by non-political entities promoting merchandise or news are not recognized by Google.

To publish a political advertisement with google, there are two steps that have to be followed1:

  • The advertiser has to be verified by Google itself

A pre-certificate requirement for election ads in India have to be obtained from the Election Commission of India or by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee(MCMC). 2

  1. Advertising Policies, Google, available at https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/6014595?hl=en.[]
  2. Reconstitution of Media Certification & Monitoring Committee , Election Commission, available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9356-reconstitution-of-media-certification-monitoring-committee-%E2%80%93-regarding/[]

Do bulk SMSs/Voice messages in political campaigning require Pre-Certification as political advertisements?

Yes, even bulk SMSs/Voice messages for political campaigning require permission from the Media Certification and Reconstitution of Media Certification & Monitoring Committee , Election Commission,1 so that the Model Code of Conduct is not violated by any candidate or political party.

  1. available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9356-reconstitution-of-media-certification-monitoring-committee-%E2%80%93-regarding/ Monitoring Committee (MCMC) []

Can political parties use Doordarshan and the All India Radio for broadcasting political advertisements during campaigning?

The use of Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) are available only to recognized National or State Parties. These facilities are not available to registered-unrecognised political parties or any independent candidates.1

  1. Allotment of Broadcast Time to Recognized Political Parties, Gist of instructions, Page 129, point 2(i), Compendium of Instruction on Media Related Matters, https://observerseci.eci.nic.in/Instruction/MediaPaid%20News%20Compendium%202017.pdf. []

Can ministers use official vehicles during election period?

No, all ministers cannot use official vehicles during the election period. People who can use are Prime Minister, President, Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha and such other dignitaries visiting States from other States. Persons who have been given security by statutory provisions like the Special Protection Group Act 1988 can also use official vehicles.

Can photographs of political leaders be used in government advertisements printed from public exchequer during elections?

No, photographs of political leaders cannot be put on government advertisements printed from public exchequer.1 For example, if the picture of a candidate in Jaipur is put up on a billboard explaining a Family Planning Scheme by the Ministry of Health, then this is a violation of the MCC. However, photographs or mentions of certain political leaders like President, Prime Ministers, Chief Minister, Governor can be used only if it is felt essential for effective government messaging.

  1. Section 135C, Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.[]

What is the Model Code of Conduct (MCC)?

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC)1 are rules and regulations which regulate the actions of the political parties, candidates, people supporting them, the civil servants during election time and anybody else who is associated with elections. It also regulates the actions of other individuals and organizations with the aim of making the elections as transparent as possible.

The MCC ensures that the elections are held on fair grounds and no action is taken by a party in power so as to derive any benefit during the elections. The MCC also levels the playing field for all the political parties involved in the electoral process.

In the case of the Lok Sabha election, the MCC applies to the whole of India.

  1. Manual for Model Code of Conduct, Election Commission, available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9375-manual-on-model-code-of-conduct.[]

When Does MCC Apply?

The MCC applies when elections are going on. For the Lok Sabha elections MCC usually comes in force when the election schedule is announced by the Election Commission of India and till the results are announced in all the constituencies.1

  1. Heading 3.2, Manual for Model Code of Conduct, Election Commission, available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9375-manual-on-model-code-of-conduct.[]

Who is Covered Under the MCC?

The MCC covers1:

  • Political parties,
  • Candidates,
  • Organizations,
  • Committees,
  • Corporations, and
  • Commissions funded wholly or partially by the central or the state government. Example: Electricity Regulatory Commissions, Jal Boards, Transport Corporations, etc.
  1. Heading 3.5, Manual for Model Code of Conduct, Election Commission, available at https://eci.gov.in/files/file/9375-manual-on-model-code-of-conduct.[]