Election Commission of India
The official logo Election Commission
|Formed||25 January 1950 (Later celebrated as National Voters Day)|
|Headquarters||Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi|
|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 constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India at national and state. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state Legislative Assemblies, state legislative Councils, and the offices of the President and Vice President of the country. The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act. The commission has the powers under the Constitution, to act in an appropriate manner when the enacted laws make insufficient provisions to deal with a given situation in the conduct of an election. Being a constitutional authority, Election Commission is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary, the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The commission was established in 1950 and originally only had a Chief Election Commissioner. Two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission for the first time on 16 October 1989 (on the eve of the 1989 General Election), but they had a very short tenure, ending on 1 January 1990. "The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989" was adopted on 1 January 1990 which turned the commission into a multi-member body: a 3-member Commission has been in operation since then and the decisions by the commission are made by a majority vote. The Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners who are usually retired IAS officers 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 commission is served by its secretariat located in New Delhi. The Election Commissioners are assisted by Deputy Election Commissioners, who are generally IAS officers. They are further assisted by Directors General, Principal Secretaries, and Secretaries and Under Secretaries.
At the state level, Election Commission is assisted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, who is an IAS officer of Principal Secretary rank. At the district and constituency levels, the District Magistrates (in their capacity as District Election Officers), Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers perform election work.
Removal from office
The Chief Election Commissioner of India can be removed from their office similar to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court of India which requires a resolution passed by the Parliament of India a two-thirds majority in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President of India on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner. A Chief Election Commissioner has never been impeached in India. In 2009, just before the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami sent a recommendation to President Prathibha Patil to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who was soon to take office as the chief election commissioner and to subsequently supervise the Lok Sabha Election, a potential conflict of interest considering his partisan political party behavior. The President opined that such a recommendation is not binding on the president, and hence rejected it. Subsequently, after Gopalswami's retirement the next month, Chawla became the chief election commissioner and supervised the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections.
One of the most important features of the democratic policy in India is elections at regular intervals. Holding periodic, free and fair elections are essentials of a democratic system and a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The Election Commission is regarded as the guardian of elections in the country. 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 of Conduct for the first time in 1971 for the 5th Lok Sabha elections and has revised it from time to time. It lays down guidelines for the conduct of political parties and candidates during an election period. However, there have been instances of violation of the code by various political parties with complaints being received for misuse of official machinery by the candidates. The code does not have any specific statutory basis but only a persuasive effect. It contains the rules of electoral morality. However, this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the commission from enforcing it.
A law for the registration process for political parties was enacted in 1989 and a number of parties got registered with the commission. The registration helps avoid confusion and ensures that the political parties are brought under the purview of the commission.
The election commission has the right to allow symbols to the political parties. It gives recognition to the national parties, state parties and regional parties. It sets limits on poll expenses. The commission prepare electoral rolls and update the voter's list from time to time. Notifications of dates and schedules of election for filing nominations are issued by the commission. It is noteworthy that Election commission cannot allot same symbol to two regional political parties even if they are not in the same state.
To curb the growing influence of money during elections, the Election Commission has made many suggestions and changes in this regard. The commission has appointed IRS officers of the Income Tax Department as Election Observers (Expenditure) of all elections and has fixed the legal limits on the amount of money which a candidate can spend during election campaigns. These limits have been revised over time. The Election Commission, by appointing expenditure observers from the Indian Revenue Service, keeps an eye on the individual account of election expenditure. The commission takes details of the candidate's assets on affidavit at the time of submitting nomination paper, who are also required to give details of their expenditure within 30 days of the declaration of results. The campaign period has also been reduced by the commission from 21 to 14 days for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to cut down election expenditure.
In an effort to prevent electoral fraud, in 1993, EPICs or Electors Photo Identity Cards were issued, which became mandatory by the 2004 elections. However ration cards have been allowed for election purposes in certain situations.
Voting in India is done using Electronic voting machines or EVMs, there is also a provision for the * Postal voting in India, as well as the special arrangements for the disabled voters.
Electronic voting machines (EVM)
India has been the first country to adopt Electronic Voting at such a large scale. Electronic voting machines (EVM) were introduced by Election Commission in order to reduce malpractices and improve efficiency. They were tried for the first time on an experimental basis for the 1982 Kerala State Legislative Assembly Elections. After a successful testing and the legal inquiries, the commission took the decision to begin the use of these voting machines.
The introduction of Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in eight Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014 Indian General Elections was a big achievement for the Election Commission. This Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system was first used with EVMs in a by-poll in September 2013 in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) in Nagaland. and eventually in all elections from September 2013 onwards in various Legislative elections in the country.
In 2014, none of the above or NOTA was also added as an option on the voting machines which is now a mandatory option to be provided in any election. The specific symbol for NOTA, a ballot paper with a black cross across it, was introduced on 18 September 2015. The symbol has been designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
Election Commission organised an open hackathon on 3 June 2017, to attempt hacking of Electronic Voting Machine used by the commission in various Indian elections. The NCP and CPI(M) were the only two parties that registered for the event but none of them participated. Functioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines were demonstrated to the teams.
Postal voting in India is done only through the "Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Papers (ETPB)" system of Election Commission of India, ballot papers are distributed to the registered eligible voters who return the votes by post. Postal votes are counted first before the counting of votes from the EVM. Only certain categories of people are eligible to register as postal voters. Employees working in the union armed forces and state police as well as their spouses, and those working for the Government of India who are officially posted abroad can register for the postal vote, these are also called the "Service voters". People in preventive detention can use postal vote. Prisoners can not vote at all.
Electors with disabilities
The Election Commission of India came under severe criticism when an RTI application filed by activist Dr Satendra Singh revealed the commission's ill-preparedness to safeguard electors with disabilities in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. There were many violations of the Supreme Court order from 2014 to enfranchise persons with disabilities.
- "Contact Us". Election Commission of India. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
- "About ECI". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952 (Act No. 31 of 1952)" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 14 March 1952. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Part XV of the Constitution of India - Elections - Article 324" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "The Representation of the People Act, 1951" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 (Act No. 11 of 1991)" (PDF). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. 25 January 1991. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Laxmikanth, M (2017). Indian Polity. McGraw Hill. p. 42.5. ISBN 9789352603633.
- Ram, N. (31 January 2009). "Chief Election Commissioner Gopalaswami 'recommends' removal of Navin Chawla". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "President rejects Gopalaswami's report against Navin Chawla". The Hindu. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "A job well done". The Hindu. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Chhibber, Maneesh (5 November 2015). "Model Code is only moral code, but carries weight". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Joyita (14 April 2014). "Model Code of Conduct and the 2014 General Elections". PRS Legislative Research. Retrieved 9 September 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Iqbal, Aadil Ikram Zaki (4 January 2017). "UP poll dates announced, results on March 11". India. Essel Group. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Election Commission enforces model code of conduct in Manipur". Hindustan Times. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Sharma, Test (10 October 2007). "Gujarat, Himachal get dates for Assembly polls". News18. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Registration of political parties under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 23 March 1992. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Handbook of Symbols, 2004" (PDF). Election Commission of India. 2004. Clause 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Subject - Guidelines for Publication and Dissemination of Results of Opinion Polls/Exit Polls". Election Commission of India. 20 January 1998. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Election Commission bans exit polls in election-bound states". The Times of India. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Chopra, Ritika (16 February 2017). "Exit polls and why they are restricted by the panel: All your questions answered". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Kumar, Pradeep (23 March 2017). "RK Nagar byelection: Observers appointed". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Deployment of observers in RK Nagar a new national record: Election Commission". The New Indian Express. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "The Function (Electoral System)". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Anand, Utkarsh (21 March 2017). "Election Commission supports lifetime ban on convicts from contesting". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Rautray, Samanwaya (15 September 2016). "Lifetime ban on convicted netas: Supreme Court seeks Center, Election Commission's views". The Economic Times. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "When using ration card as identity proof, entire family should vote". The Indian Express. 8 October 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "A Constitutional Body". Election Commission of India.
- Postal ballots: Who can vote through ETPB, how to get registered and how the voting is done; an explainer, First Post, 2 April 2019.
- Maharashtra, Haryana Elections 2019: Can You Vote By Postal Ballot If You Aren't Living At Home?, HUffington Post, 26 September 2019.
- Gohain, Manash Pratim (27 January 2014). "Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities". Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग" [Election Commission not serious about persons with disablities]. Punjab Kesari (in Hindi). 26 January 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "India devises flawless ballot mechanism". The News International. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Singh, Bikash (4 September 2013). "VVPAT used or the first time in Noksen bypolls". The Economic Times. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Shivadekar, Sanjeev (30 March 2015). "Now, photos of candidates on EVMs to weed out 'dummies'". Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Virk, Aviral (21 September 2015). "Contesting the Bihar Polls? Dummy Candidates Beware". The Quint. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Joshua, Anita (13 October 2013). "Election Commission okays NOTA option". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "NOTA to be provided in general elections". The Times of India. 5 March 2014. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "Now, 'NOTA' has an electoral symbol too". Daily News and Analysis. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "AAP calls EC's EVM challenge 'farce', begins registration for its hackathon". The Economic Times. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Prabhu, Sunil (3 June 2017). Tikku, Aloke (ed.). "The EVM (Vote Machine) 'Hackathons' That Weren't: 10 Points". NDTV. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "EVM 'hackathon' challenge: NCP, CPM didn't participate, but understood the process, says EC". Firstpost. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- Election Commission of India Official Portal
- Election Commission of India profile by Elections Canada.
- ECI's Online Voters List Options: 'Voter Name' search Parliamentary, Assembly constituency-wise. Also one can get full Electoral Rolls 'Voting Booth' wise.