In India, a democratic polity requires competent machinery to conduct free and fair elections. As a result, the Constitution's founding fathers made a point of including a foolproof mechanism for conducting free and fair elections in the form of the Election Commission of India, which is established pursuant to Article 324 of the Constitution.
"The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such other Election Commissioners as may be necessary," Article 324, Section 2 states.
Commissioners, if any, as the President may determine from time to time, and the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall be appointed by the President, subject to the provisions of any relevant legislation passed by Parliament.
Initially, the Election Commission consisted of only the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), with the issue of appointing additional Election Commissioners (ECs) proving unpopular with both the current government and the incumbent CEC, despite the fact that a number of committees, including the Lok Sabha's Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reforms, had recommended its expansion.
Composition Of Election Commission
Currently, the Election Commission is comprised of the CEC and two ECS appointed by the president. Surprisingly, the constitution contains no specific requirements for appointment to the CEC or ECs, nor does it contain any specific appointment procedures. Though the majority of those appointed to the positions of CEC and EC are members of the elite Indian administrative services (IAS), a few individuals from outside the ranks of government service have been appointed.
Whether or not these former government officials remain in the government's debt, the election commission is required by law to operate independently and without fear or favour.
As with many other constitutional authorities, the constitution provides in Article 324 (5) that the CEC may not be removed from office except in the same manner and on the same grounds as a Supreme Court judge and that the CEC's terms of service shall not be unduly burdensome during his tenure.
While the constitution provides for their removal on the recommendation of the CDC, the procedure for doing so remains unclear, as the Supreme Court discussed in the election commissioner's case in Naveen Chawla.
What are the functions of the Election Commission?
Article 324(1) establishes the Election Commission's role as "superintendence, direction, and control over the preparation of electoral rolls for and conduct of all elections to Parliament and state legislatures, as well as elections to the offices of President and Vice President."
The Election Commission's primary responsibilities include the compilation, maintenance, and revision of electoral rolls, notifications, scrutiny, withdrawals, and polling, the registration and recognition of political parties, the allotment of election symbols, and the appointment of a Chief Electoral Officer (a State Government official) for each state, as well as Electoral Registration Officers, Returning Officers, and Assisting Officers.
To ensure the Election Commission's smooth operation, it has been empowered to exercise a number of election-related powers, two of which stand out. To begin, the commission has the authority to issue a request for the number and type of government officials, including security force personnel, necessary to prepare for and conduct the elections.
Governments at all levels, both central and state, are categorically directed to ensure that the Election Commission's requirements for men and materials are met on a priority basis, as failure to do so will be construed as a violation of the Constitution's provisions.
If the commission discovers any deficiency on the part of delinquent officials during the election's conduct, it has the authority to initiate disciplinary action against them for duty dereliction.
In other words, while on election duty, the officials' corpus would be construed as being on deputation to the Election Commission, and these officials would be held accountable to the commission for all acts of omission and commission on their part, and the commission would be empowered to take any disciplinary action against the errant officials.
Courts Not To Interfere In The Election Matters
Article 329 provides that no court shall invalidate a law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allocation of seats to such constituencies. Elections may be challenged only in accordance with Article 329, clause (b), and in the manner prescribed by law by submitting an election petition to the appropriate authority.
Parliament enacted the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 in the exercise of the power conferred by Clause (b) of this Article. The Election Commission's decision is final under this Act.
The Supreme Court held that Article 329's term "election" refers to the entire High Procedure Court, as defined in Articles 226 and 227.
Election refers to the acceptance or rejection of a nomination paper. The matter can be challenged only through an election petition filed with the High Court following the election.
Election tribunals were abolished in 1966 as part of the constitution's 19th amendment, which removed their authority to adjudicate election disputes.
The amendment rendered this power ineffective in the High Court. By vesting the power in the High Court, the effect was to expedite the resolution of election disputes.
Election And Electoral Reforms
India is the largest democracy on the planet. Free and fair elections have been held on a regular basis since 1947, in accordance with the Constitution and the guidelines of the Election Commission.
The Election Commission is charged by the Indian Constitution with supervising, directing, and controlling the entire process of conducting elections to the Indian Parliament and state legislatures, as well as the offices of the President and Vice-President. Elections are held in accordance with the Constitution and legislation passed by Parliament.
The Representation of the People Act of 1950, which governs the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, as well as all aspects of election administration and post-election disputes, is one of the most important statutes.
Accepting and adopting the principle of the universal adult franchise as the primary method of democratic representation in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies was the Constituent Assembly's most audacious and courageous act. It was also broadened to include local governments.
The Election Process In India
Various candidates from various parties compete against one another during an election, and voters elect their representatives. Constituency delimitation is one of the stages of India's election process, in which the entire area (the entire country for Lok Sabha elections and that specific state for Legislative Assembly elections) is divided into as many constituencies as seats. Following the delineation of constituencies, a voter's list is prepared and published for each constituency, and candidates submit nomination papers.
The nomination papers are then thoroughly scrutinised. The next step is for all candidates and political parties to run for office. Campaigning for the election ends 48 hours before the election. Voting takes place on the designated day. The final step is to count the votes and declare the winner.
Types Of Election In India
There are four distinct types of elections in India:
General Elections: Members of Parliament are elected to the Lok Sabha and are referred to as (Members of Parliament) MoP. They occur every five years.
Assembly/Council Election: In India, elections to the state assembly are held to elect members of the Python Sabha or legislative state assembly. MLAs, or Members of the Legislative Assembly, vote every five years. Each state's legislative council is also elected. Six years is the term of office, with a third of members returning every two years.
Rajya Sabha Elections: Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by state and territorial legislatures. Members serve six years on the board, with one-third retiring every two years.
President Elections: The President is chosen from a group of nominees by members of the Indian parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and state legislatures (Vidhan Sabhas) for a five-year term.
Apart from these elections, elections for Panchyati Raj Institutions and Municipal Local Bodies are held to give meaning to the decentralisation component. To conduct these elections, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act established Election Commissions in each state.