Election Commission is one of the most important bodies in India without which it is probably difficult to imagine Indian democracy. Democracy without elections is meaningless and elections are meaningful or credible only if they are conducted by a free-autonomous institution.
In this article, we will discuss the Election Commission of India (ECI) in a simple and easy way and understand all its important aspects; So for all the important information related to elections in India, read the article till the end:
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What is Election Commission?
Indian democracy is successful because elections are conducted here under a transparent system. And these elections are done in such a systematic and transparent manner because there is a permanent and independent body called the Election Commission.
Overall, the Election Commission is the most important institution to keep the democracy running, which was constituted by the Constitution of India with the objective of conducting free and fair elections in the country. It is mentioned in Article 324 of the Constitution.
According to Article 324 , the Election Commission conducts elections to the offices of Parliament, State Legislature, President and Vice President, as well as directs and controls it. Therefore, the Election Commission is an all India body as it is common to both the Central and State Governments. The Election Commission is assisted by the Secretary, Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries working in the Secretariat of the Commission.
At the state level, the State Election Commission is assisted by the Chief Electoral Officer, who is appointed by the Chief Election Commissioner on the advice of the State Governments. Below this is the Collector, District Election Officer at the district level. He appoints the Returning Officer for each constituency in the district and the Presiding Officer for each polling station.
The point to be noted here is that the Election Commission has no relation with the Panchayat and municipal elections in the states. For this, separate State Election Commissions have been provided in the Constitution of India.
Composition of Election Commission
From 1950 to October 15, 1989, the Election Commission functioned as a one-man body i.e. it had only the Chief Electoral Officer. From this you can understand how heavy the workload must have been on that single person. In order to reduce this burden, on 16 October 1989, the President appointed two other Election Commissioners. That is, after that the commission started functioning as a multi-member body, with three election commissioners.
However, in 1990 once again the posts of both the Additional Election Commissioners were abolished so that the situation was once again the same. But again in October 1993, two Election Commissioners were appointed. Since then, the Commission has been functioning as a multi-member body with three Election Commissioners.
⚫ The Chief Election Commissioner and two other Election Commissioners have the same powers, there is no difference between them. And these powers are similar to that of a judge of the Supreme Court. That is why you will see that in case of dispute on any subject, when the Chief Election Commissioner and two other Election Commissioners decide on the basis of majority.
⚫ The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners are appointed by the President. Every state also has a Regional Election Commissioner who is appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Whether we talk about the Election Commissioners of the Center or the Regional Commissioners, the service conditions and term of office of all these are determined by the President.
⚫ The term of the Election Commissioner is six years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. However, if he so desires, he can resign at any time or he can be removed even before the expiry of the term, but he can be removed in the same way as a judge of the Supreme Court is removed.
How independent is the Election Commission?
It is very important for the Election Commission to be independent because if it remains under the control of the government, then the credibility of democracy is bound to be dented. That is why some very important provisions have been made in Article 324 for the free and fair work of the Election Commission. which is the following.
1. The President appoints the Election Commissioner but the Election Commissioner does not work till the pleasure of the President. This means that the President cannot remove it from his mind. Once appointed, they are free to work for their fixed tenure.
If he is accused of misbehavior or inefficiency and it becomes necessary to remove him, he will be removed by the same method as the judges of the Supreme Court, that is, by impeachment. For which a resolution has to be passed by both the Houses of the Parliament with a special majority.
2. Once appointed, no unfavorable change can be made in his/her conditions of service. As for his salary, it can be increased but cannot be decreased.
3. A new Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner can be removed only on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner, and not otherwise.
Although the Election Commission has been given guidelines under the Constitution to work independently and impartially, but it also has some drawbacks such as –
1. What should be the qualification to become an Election Commissioner has not been mentioned in the Constitution.
2. It is not mentioned in the constitution that what is the term of office of the members of the Election Commission.
3. The Constitution has not barred other appointments of Election Commissioners by the government after retirement.
Functions and Powers of Election Commission
1. Due to increase in population or due to any other political reason, there is a need for delimitation of constituencies. That is why according to the order of the President (on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament), it determines the territory of the constituencies of all India.
2. It prepares the voter list from time to time and registers all eligible voters. Generally there are three types of voters
(1) General voters
(2) Service voters
(3) Overseas Voters .
(1) General Voter – Any person may enroll himself as a voter if he:
(1) is an Indian citizen.
(2) has attained the age of 18 years, (as on the 1st day of the year of revision of the electoral roll i.e. 1st January)
(3) partially resident of the constituency where he wishes to cast his vote
(4) Competent Authority has not been disqualified from casting a vote.
If you want to become a voter and want to enroll for it, then you can use this link of the Election Commission .
(2) Service voters – A voter having service qualification is known as a service voter, they are –
(1) a member of the Armed Forces of India,
(2) under the Army Act 1950 Members of all incoming forces,
(3) Armed Forces Police forces of a State serving outside that State,
(4) Persons serving under the Government of India serving outside India.
For how service voters can enroll for the election, visit this link of the Election Commission .
(3) Overseas Voters – A citizen of India, who is absent from the country due to employment, education etc., and has not obtained citizenship of any other country, is known as Overseas Voter. They are eligible to be registered as voters at the address mentioned in their Indian passport. To know what is the provision for, follow this link ️ of the Election Commission.
3. It determines the date and time table of elections and scrutinizes the nomination papers.
4. It gives recognition to political parties and gives them the status of national or state level party on the basis of their performance in the elections. Acts like a court for resolving the dispute in the matter of giving election symbol.
5. It frames the code of conduct for the parties and candidates at the time of election and appoints officers to investigate the dispute related to the election system.
6. It advises the President on matters relating to the disqualification of Members of Parliament and advises the Governor on matters relating to the disqualification of a member of the Legislature.
7. It supervises the electoral system to conduct free and fair elections all over India and can cancel the election on the ground of loot, violence and other irregularities of polling station.
8. It spreads awareness about the election process among various stakeholders, such as voters, political parties, election officials, candidates and general public. For this, it takes recourse to various modern means. It has a very important portal for awareness – SVEEP, you can visit it if you want.
So overall the Election Commission of India maintains independence, autonomy and integrity. And it ensures the availability and ethical participation of stakeholders. It follows the highest professional standards to conduct free, blame-free and transparent elections so as to strengthen the public’s faith in democracy.