Election Commission of India


  • Election Commission of India is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution
  • Article 324 provides power of superintendence, direction and control of elections of
    • Parliament
    • State legislatures
    • Office of President of India
    • Office of vice-president of India
  • So, the Election Commission is an all-India body
  • Election commission is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities
  • For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission
  • Election Commission established in 1950
 
 
Composition
  • The Election Commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, as the president may from time to time fix.
  • President appoints the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners
  • When any other election commissioner is so appointed, the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
  • President may appoint regional commissioners after consultation with the election commission
  • Conditions of service and tenure of office shall be determined by the president
  • Till 1989, the election commission functioned as a single member body
  • By the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988 voting age became 18 years from 21 years.
  • So, President appointed 2 more election commissioners to cope with the increased work of the election commission
  • Thereafter, the Election Commission functioned as a multimember body consisting of 3 election commissioners.
  • However, the two posts of election commissioners were abolished in January 1990 and the Election Commission was reverted to the earlier position.
  • Again in October 1993, the president appointed two more election commissioners.
  • Since then and till today, the Election Commission has been functioning as a multi-member body consisting of 3 election commissioners.
  • Chief election commissioner and 2 other election commissioners have equal powers
  • They receive equal salary, allowances and other perquisites, which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief election commissioner and/or two other election commissioners, the matter is decided by the Commission by majority.
  • Hold office for a term of 6 years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier
  • They can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
 
 
Independence
  • Chief election commissioner is provided with the security of tenure.
  • He cannot be removed from his office except in same manner and on the same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court
  • In other words, he can be removed by the president on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
  • So, he does not hold his office till the pleasure of the president
  • The service conditions of the chief election commissioner cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • Any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the chief election commissioner.
 
Limitations in Safeguard
  • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications of the members of the Election Commission.
  • Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
  • The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government
  • Budget of the Election Commission does not charged from Consolidated Fund of India
  • Its voted through Parliament which may lead to conflict of interests
 
 
Powers and Functions
  • Administrative
  • Advisory
  • Quasi-Judicial
 
In detail powers and functions are
  • To determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
  • To grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them.
  • Grant them the status of national or state parties
  • Act as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and allotment of election symbols to them.
  • Advise the president on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of Parliament.
  • advise the governor on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of state legislature
  • Advise the president whether elections can be held in a state under president’s rule in order to extend the period of emergency after one year.
  • Prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters.
  • Notify the dates and schedules of elections and to scrutinise nomination papers
  • Prepare a roster for publicity of the policies of the political parties on radio and TV and other media in times of elections.
  • Promote awareness about the electoral process and electoral governance amongst voters, political parties, candidates and people
  • Strengthen confidence and trust of people in the electoral system of this country
  • Adopt technology for improvement in all areas of electoral process
 
 
Structure
  • Election Commission is assisted by deputy election commissioners
  • At state level, the Election Commission is assisted by the chief electoral officer
  • Chief electoral officer appointed by the chief election commissioner in consultation with the state government
  • At the district level, the collector acts as the district returning officer
  • He appoints a returning officer for every constituency and presiding officer for every polling booth
 

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