Election Commission of India

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This article is about the body which oversees elections in India. For similar title in other jurisdictions, see Election Commission.
Election Commission of India

भारत निर्वाचन आयोग
Election Commission of India Logo.png
Election Commission of India
Agency overview
Formed 25 January 1950 (Later celebrated as National Voters Day)
Jurisdiction India
Headquarters New Delhi
28°36′50″N 77°12′32″E / 28.61389°N 77.20889°E / 28.61389; 77.20889
Agency executives V. S. Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner
Harishankar Brahma, Election Commissioner
Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, Election Commissioner[1]
Website eci.nic.in

The Election Commission of India (Hindi:भारत निर्वाचन आयोग) is an autonomous, constitutionally established federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes in the Republic of India. Under the supervision of the commission, free and fair elections have been held in India at regular intervals as per the principles enshrined in the Constitution. The Election Commission has the power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the Parliament of India and the state legislatures and of elections to the office of the President of India and the Vice-President of India.[2]

The power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the Local Government/Municipal Corporation by the State Election Commission.

The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his office by Parliament with two-thirds majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity. Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner. The Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners draw salaries and allowances at par with those of the Judges of the Supreme Court of India as per the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1992.[3] The current CEC is V. S. Sampath.

History[edit]

Sukumar Sen was an Indian civil servant who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India

Use of Scientific and Technological Advancements[edit]

The Election Commission had tried to bring improvements in election procedures by introduction of EVM – Electronic Voting Machines. It was thought that EVMs would reduce malpractices and improve efficiency. It was first tried out on an experimental basis in the state of Kerala for the 1982 Legislative Assembly Elections. After successful testing and legal inquires, the Commission took the decision to begin the use of EVMs.[4]

The Election Commission launched a web site of its own on 28 February 1998. It helps to provide accurate information, management, administration and also instant results of the elections. In 1998, Election Commission decided on a programme for the 'computerisation' of the electoral rolls.

In an effort to prevent electoral fraud, in 1993 EPICs – Electorals Photo Identity Cards were issued. In the 2004 elections, it was mandatory to possess the card.

Multi-Member Commission[edit]

Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. But, two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission for the first time on 16 October 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1 January 1990. The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made Election Commission to be multi member body. Later, on 1 October 1993, two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision making power by majority vote.[4]

Functions and powers[edit]

Guardian of Free and Fair Elections[edit]

One of the most important features of the democratic polity is elections at regular intervals.

Democracy is the “Government of the people, By the people, And for the people".

Holding periodic free & fair elections are essentials of democratic system. It is part of basic structure of the Constitution which has been held in T. N. Sheshan V/s Union of India.[5] The Commission has taken many efforts for the success of elections and thereby democracy.

Model Code of Conduct[edit]

The Election Commission is regarded as guardian of free and fair elections. In every election, it issues a Model code of Conduct for political parties and candidates to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time. It lay down guidelines for conduct of political parties & candidates during elections. However, there are instances of violation of code by the political parties and complaints are received for misuse of official machinery by the candidates.

In I.D. Systems (India) Pvt. Ltd. v/s. Chief Election Commissioner,[6] the Kerala High Court held that the object of model code of conduct is not to stop all governmental activities but only those actions which may directly influence a section of electors need to be prevented.

The need for such code is in the interest of free and fair elections. However, the code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect. It contains what, known as "rules of electoral morality". But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.

Registration of Political Parties[edit]

A law regarding to this registration process was enacted in 1989 and number of parties got registered with Commission.[7] It helps to avoid confusion and headache of the administrative machinery as well as confusion of the electorate. It ensures that political parties can practice democracy only by their registration.

Limits on Poll Expenses[edit]

To get rid of the growing influences and vulgar show of money during elections the Election Commission has made many suggestions in this regard. The Election Commission has fixed the legal limits on the amount of money which a candidate can spend during election campaigns. These limits have been revised from time to time. The Election Commission by appointing observers keeps an eye on the individual account of election expenditure. The contestants are also required to give details of expenditure with 30 days of declaration of results. However, political parties do not adhere to the financial ‘Lakshman Rekha’ as huge amount are spent by parties under the garb of their supporters.

The campaign period was reduced by the Election Commission from 21 to 14 days for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections; it is for to trim down election expenditure. The Election Commission’s this attempt to impose these measures has been a move in the right direction. Moreover, Election Commission takes details of the candidate's asset on affidavit at the time of submitting nomination paper.

In Common Cause v/s. Union of India, it was pointed out that, in India elections are fought on the basis of money. The Court ruled that, purity of election is fundamental to the democracy and Commission can ask the candidates about the expenditure incurred by them and political party for this purpose.

Prohibition on Publication[edit]

The Commission can issue an order for prohibition of publication and disseminating of results of opinion polls (Exit Polls).[8]

Criticism[edit]

The Election Commission of India came into severe criticism when a RTI by disability activist Dr Satendra Singh revealed its ill-preparedness to safeguard electors with disabilities in General Elections 2014.[9] There were many violations of Supreme Court order from 2014 to enfranchise persons with disabilities.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Balaji, J (4 August 2012). "Zaidi is new Election Commissioner". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  2. ^ "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India. 
  3. ^ "Q 7. What is the status Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners in terms of salaries and allowances etc.?". Election Commission of India. 
  4. ^ a b "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India. 
  5. ^ AIR 1995 SC 852
  6. ^ AIR 2006 Ker 229
  7. ^ Welcome to Election Commission of India. Eci.nic.in. Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  8. ^ India Election Commission Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
  9. ^ "Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities". Times of India. 27 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग". Punjab Kesari. 26 January 2014. 

External links[edit]