The Model Code of Conduct, which came under attack recently from ministers in trouble and from government which hurriedly dropped a controversial move to give it a statutory backing, needs to be further strengthened, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said on Sunday.

The Election Commission has sufficient authority under the law for the conduct of free and fair elections and does not require any more powers, he said on the conclusion of the Assembly elections in five States, including Uttar Pradesh, in which a number of ministers were hauled up for violation of the model code of conduct.

“We do not require any more powers. The Model Code of Conduct is sufficient. But we need to fine-tune and update certain provisions of the Representation of People’s Act to make penalties for violation of MCC more stringent,” Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi told PTI here on Sunday.

Asked whether the commission needed more powers, he said, “we have demonstrated that our powers are good enough and we have used them judiciously.”

He said “the current fines for violations of MCC under the Act are ridiculous... For instance, there is a fine of only Rs 500 prescribed under the Act for a violation, which needs to be updated to bring it in line with the current realities.”

Disfavouring statutory backing for the Model Code of Conduct, the CEC said it is a unique document which the political parties have themselves evolved for discipline during elections. “It is working very effectively. It only needs some fine tuning,” he said.

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