11.1 The code of conduct: To avoid malpractice and manipulation of any kind in the election process to ensure free and fair election, the Election Commission has, under article 92B of the Representation of the People Order, 1972, formulated the Code of Conduct for the observance of political parties and the contesting candidates. The salient features of the Code of Conduct are the following :
a) Ban on subscription, donation etc. to any institution.- Following the announcement of the election schedule till the day of polling, no candidate or any person on his behalf shall, openly or in secret, give any subscription or donation, or make promise for giving such subscription or donation, to any institution of their concerned constituency or to any other institution, nor shall commit to undertake any development project within the concerned constituency.
b) Use of Government accommodation like Circuit Houses, rest houses : All parties and candidates shall be given equal rights for using government rest house and circuit house on the basis of the application first made and in accordance with the existing rules for using of same. But the government officers engaged in the conduct of the election shall get preference to use Government dak-bungalows, rest houses and circuit houses.
c) Election campaign : All political parties and candidates shall be given equal rights with respect to election campaign. Meetings, processions and election campaigns of the opponent shall be disrupted.
d) Other activities include ban on use of any thoroughfare creating hindrances to the movement of the public, use of government media, government officers, employees vehicles or other state facilities, pasting of posters, leaflets or handbills over those of rival candidates, setting up camps on any road or places meant for use of the public, use of government rest houses, circuit house as a place of election campaign, use of printed paper imported from outside the country and use of multi-colored posters, use of number of microphones at a time, damage of land, building, movable or immovable properties of any citizen, wall writings, use of motor cycle or any other mechanical transport or any other mechanical transport, carrying of fire arms or explosives within the premises of a polling station, illegal interference of government officers or local influential persons in the election process, procession of buses, trucks or any other vehicles or torch procession, any bitter and provocative statement and any such statement that may hurt the sentiments of the followers of any religion, crossing of limits of election expenses, influences of money, arms, muscle power or local influence.
e) Pre-poll irregularities :- Violation of any provision of these rules shall be considered as pre-poll irregularities. Pre-poll period, as defined in the rules, means the period commencing on the announcement of the election schedule and ending on the declaration of election results.
11.2 Prevention of pre-poll irregularities :
(a) Establishment of Electoral Enquiry Committee : Any person or political party aggrieved by such violation may apply to the Electoral Enquiry Committee or Election Commission seeking redress. If the applications filed with the Election Commission is found by the Commission is tenable, it shall send the same to the concerned Electoral Enquiry Committee for investigation. In both cases, the Electoral Enquiry Committee, after making any investigation as per law shall submit its recommendation to the Commission.
(b) Formation of Electoral Enquiry Committee: The Election Commission is empowered by article 91A of the Representation of the People Order, 1972 to establish a Committee to be known as Electoral Enquiry Committee with the judicial officers.
(c) Functions of the Electoral Enquiry Committee: The Committee shall on the basis of information received or complaints made to it or on its own initiative, inquires into any matter or situation or any pre-poll irregularity including any situation or matter, which, in its opinion, may involve, by any person whosoever, as act or omission constituting intimidation, obstruction, coercion, or the publication of false information, or any other act or omission intended to or actually resulting in the obstruction of frustration of the preparation for, or the conduct of, free and fair election.
11.3 Election petitions:
Under article 49 of the Representation of the People Order, 1972, an election petition shall be presented to the Election Commission within 45 days after the publication in the official gazette of the name of the returned candidate. The Election Commission will then make arrangement for submission of the election petitions to the concerned Election Tribunals constituted for the purpose by the Election Commission.
The election tribunal is set up with the District and Sessions Judges at all the District headquarters. Besides, to expedite disposal of election petitions, Election Tribunals have been set up at all the 6 Divisional headquarters. These courts are headed by judicial officers of the level of a District Judge. Their sole and exclusive function is to try election petitions arising out of election disputes.