Election Commission of India
भारत निर्वाचन आयोग
Election Commission of India
|Formed||25 January 1950 (Later celebrated as National Voters Day)|
|Agency executives||Harishankar Brahma, Chief Election Commissioner
Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, Election Commissioner
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
|Part of the Politics series|
The Election Commission of India 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. Elections are conducted according to the constitutional provisions, supplemented by laws made by Parliament. The major laws are Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of conduct of elections and post election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.
- 1 State Election Commissions
- 2 History
- 3 Functions and powers
- 4 Criticism
- 5 References
- 6 External links
State Election Commissions
The power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the Local Government(Village Panchayat,Block Panchayat,District Panchayat)/Municipal Corporation vest with the State Election Commissions as envisaged in Article 243(k) of the Constitution of India.The Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, passed in 1992 by the Narasimha Rao government, came into force on April 24, 1993. It was meant to provide constitutional sanction to establish "democracy at the grassroots level as it is at the state level or national level" The State Election Commissioner has several unique powers pertaining to the elections to Local Bodies, which include the following. SEC chairs the Delimitation Commission which delimits local government constituencies. He has full powers to conduct local government elections including disciplinary powers over staff who are on election duty. SEC assigns reserved posts and constituencies. SEC can disqualify candidates who do not submit election accounts. He can disqualify members found guilty of defection. He can disqualify elected representative who do not convene the Grama Sabha. In most of the States, the State Election Commissioners have the status equal to that of the High Court Judge.The State Election Commissioner of Kerala shall not be removed from his office except in the like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of a High Court.  ,
The Chief Election Commissioner of India 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. The current CEC is Harishankar Brahma.
Sukumar Sen was an Indian who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India
Use of Scientific and Technological Advancements
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.
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. But even ration cards and driving licenses is allowed to be used for election purposes.
Originally the commission had only a single Chief Election Commissioner. Two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission for the first time on 16 October 1989, but they had a very short tenure—until 1 January 1990. The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. Later, on 1 October 1993, two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of a multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision-making power by majority vote.
Functions and powers
Guardian of Free and Fair Elections
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 a part of the basic structure of the Constitution which has been held in T. N. Sheshan V/s Union of India. The Commission has taken many efforts for the success of elections and thereby democracy.
Model Code of Conduct
The Election Commission is regarded as the 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, 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
A law regarding to this registration process was enacted in 1989 and number of parties got registered with the Commission. 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
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 within 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
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. There were many violations of Supreme Court order from 2014 to enfranchise persons with disabilities.
- "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India.
- "Q 7. What is the status Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners in terms of salaries and allowances etc.?". Election Commission of India.
- "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India.
- AIR 1995 SC 852
- AIR 2006 Ker 229
- Welcome to Election Commission of India. Eci.nic.in. Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
- India Election Commission Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
- "Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities". Times of India. 27 January 2014.
- "विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग". Punjab Kesari. 26 January 2014.
- Official website
- Links to Official Web Sites of Chief Electoral Officers of 28 States and 7 UTs
- ECI's Online Voters List Options: 'Voter Name' search Parliamentary, Assembly constituency wise. Also one can get full Electoral Rolls 'Voting Booth' wise.