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Functions of Election Commission

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  • Last Updated : 24 Aug, 2022
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Introduction to Election Commission:

  • The Election Commission was established on Jan 25, 1950, and the Constitution of India provided permanent and Independent autonomous authority to the body.
  • Part XV of the Constitution of India deals with establishing the Election Commission and its power and functions.
  • Articles 324 to 329 of the Constitution provide for the powers, duties, tenure, and eligibility of the Election Commission.
  • The body conducts elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislatures in India and the offices of the President and Vice President of the country.
  • The Secretariat of the Election Commission is in New Delhi.

Articles Relating to the Election Commission:

  • Article 324 – The superintendence, direction, and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and The legislature of every State and elections to the offices of President and Vice-President.
  • Article 325 – No person shall be disqualified for inclusion in any electoral rolls based on religion, race, caste, gender, or anything them.
  • Article 326 – The elections to the house of the people and the legislative assembly of every State shall be based on adult suffrage.
  • Article 327 – Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may from time to time make provisions by law concerning all matters relating to or in connection therewith elections to the Parliament or Legislature of a state.
  • Article 328 – The Legislature of a State may from time to time by law make provision concerning all matters relating to, or in connection with, the elections to the House or either House of the Legislature of the State.
  • Article 329 – Prevented the intervention of the courts in electoral matters.

Structure of the Election Commission:

  • The Election Commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners appointed for a fixed period by the President.
  • If any other Election Commissioner is appointed by the President as the Chief Election Commissioner then he/she shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.
  • The President may also appoint a regional Election Commissioner after consulting with the Chief Election Commissioner to assist him to overcome the workload.

Appointment, Tenure & Removal of the Election Commissioners:

  • The President appoints the Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
  • The fixed term of office for them is up to six years or the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status available to Indian Supreme Court judges.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from the office only through the process of removing on the same ground as an SC judge by Parliament. This means that the President can remove him based on a resolution passed by a special majority of both Houses of Parliament on the ground of proven misbehavior or incapacity.
  • No other Election Commissioner or Regional Commissioner shall be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner to the President.

Independent provisions relating to the Election Commission:

  • The tenure of the Chief Election Commissioner is protected by the Constitution of India.
  • The Constitution of India guarantees the service conditions of the Chief election commissioner and should not change to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualification concerning education, administration, or judicial to become a member of the election commission.
  • The Constitution does not specify the term of office of members of the Election commission.
  • The Constitution does not prohibit retired election commissioners from any subsequent appointment by the Government.
  • The Constitution does not use the term “impeachment” for the removal of judges, the CAG, and the Chief Election Commissioner.

Quasi-judicial features of the Election Commission:

  • The Constitution of India confers quasi-judicial powers on the Election Commission, which deals with the post-election disqualification of members of Parliament and state legislatures.
  • In all such matters, the opinion of the Election Commission shall be binding on the President or the Governor and the decision of the Election Commission is quasi-judicial under the provisions of Section 29A(7) of the People Act, 1951. 
  • Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 empowers the Election Commission to remove any disqualification list, and under Sec. 11B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Election Commission also has the power to remove disqualification from the voter list.
  • According to Section 13CC of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, Chief Election Commissioners of States take disciplinary action against erring officers.

Functions of the Election Commission:

  • The main function of the Election Commission of India is to be responsible for free and fair elections in the country.
  • The Election commission of India is directly Superintendent and controls the conduct of elections to the Parliament and Legislature of each State and the offices of the President and Vice President of India.
  • The Election commission determines electoral territories based on constituencies across the country based on the Parliamentary Delimitation Commission Act.
  • Another function of the election Commission is to release the election schedules on time to conduct timely elections, whether general or by-elections.
  • The Election Commission should periodically prepare revised voter lists and register all eligible voters across the country.
  • It will grant recognition to political parties in the country and assign election symbols to them.
  • The Election Commission will update the party status on whether they fall under the purview of national or state-level parties based on their poll performance in the recent elections.
  • The election commission acts as a court and resolves disputes between political parties over recognition problems and issues related to the symbols assigned to them.
  • The Election Commission appoints independent officials to investigate disputes related to election arrangements.
  • The Election Commission ensures that political parties strictly should follow the Model Code of Conduct.
  • Regarding the disqualification of Members of Parliament and Legislature, the Election Commission advises the President and Governor of the States respectively.
  • The Election Commission may cancel elections on election day if rigging, violence, or any other irregularities are found to have occurred.

Challenges Faced by Election Commission:

  • Whenever Parliament or any State Legislature makes a law relating to elections under Article 324 of the Constitution, the Election Commission shall act by such provisions. The Election Commission faced this challenge in the case of Mohinder Singh Gill vs. Chief Election Commissioner and Shri K. Ganesan vs. Secretary of the Election Commission.
  • The Supreme Court has made it clear that the Election Commission’s orders are subject to judicial review and its power is not unfettered. that means that the judicial powers enjoyed by the Election Commission should depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
  • The Election Commission is not a completely independent organization. It has no powers to regulate party finances and no power to enforce internal party democracy.
  • Increased violence due to electoral malpractice and pecuniary influence led to political criminalization, but unfortunately, the ECI is unable to punish political parties involved in this violation.
  • Allegations of malfunctioning of EVMs, hacking, non-registration of votes, and rigging have undermined the confidence of the general public in the Election Commission.

Historical Events Related to the Election Commission:

  • From 1950 to 1989, the Election  Commission served as a single-member body, but on October 16, 1889, the President appointed two more Election Commissioners to deal with the increased work.
  • The two posts of Election Commissioners were subsequently abolished in January 1990.
  • Back in October 1993, the President appointed two more Election Commissioners, from that point and till today, the election commission has been working as a multi-body comprising of 3 election commissioners.
  • The Chief Election Commissioners and two other Election Commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salaries, allowances, and other prerequisites, similar to those of a Supreme Court judge.
  • If there are differences of opinion between the Chief Election Commissioner and other Commissioners, the final decision will be made based on a majority in the commission.

Way Forward:

  • The Tarkunde Committee on Electoral Reforms (1975) and the Goswami Committees on Electoral Reforms (1990) recommended that the Election Commissioner should be selected rather than appointed based on presidential discretion.
  • It is necessary to protect the other two commissioners from being removed directly by the President concerning the Chief election commissioner but they should be removed through impeachment as provided by the constitution as same as the chief election commissioner.
  • To overcome controversies over EVM Disturbances, the Election  Commission should establish its public confidence by installing VVPATS (Voter Verifiable Paper Trail Trial System) not only in sensitive constituencies but in more constituencies and if possible in all constituencies of the state.
  • To overcome the withering of EVMs, Election Commission may prefer and introduce more secure M3-type EVMs.
  • According to the Second Administrative Reforms Commission [ARC] report, recommendations should be made by a collegium having the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and the Law Minister as members, who should make recommendations to the President of India for selection of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • Whenever the Election Commission plays a quasi-judicial role it must be bound to act in accordance with the norms of natural justice.

Related Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

1Q. What are the articles related to the Election Commission in the Constitution of India?

Ans) Following articles are related to the Election Commission in the Constitution of India:

  • 324 – The superintendence, direction, and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and The legislature of every State and elections to the offices of President and Vice-President.
  • 325 – No person shall be disqualified For inclusion or inclusion claim in such roll In any special electoral rolls for such constituency Only based on religion, race, caste, gender, or anything Them.
  • 326 – The elections to the House of the People and the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be based on adult suffrage
  • 327 – Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may from time to time make provisions by law Concerning all matters relating to or in connection therewith Elections to the Parliament or Legislature of a state.
  • 328 – The Legislature of a State may from time to time by law make provision concerning all matters relating to, or in connection with, the elections to the House or either House of the Legislature of the State.
  • 329 – Prevented the intervention of the courts in electoral matters.

2Q. Briefly describe the structure of the Election Commission?

Ans) The structure of the Election Commission is: 

  • The Election Commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners appointed for a fixed period by the President from time to time.
  • If any other Election Commissioners are appointed by the President the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.
  • The President may also appoint regional election commissioners after consultation with the chief election commissioner to assist him to overcome the burden of work.
  • The President may also appoint a Regional Election Commissioner after consulting with the Chief Election Commissioner to overcome the workload.

3Q. Briefly describe the appointment, tenure, and removal of Election Commissioners?

Ans) 

  • The President appoints the Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
  • The fixed tenure of office for them is up to six years or the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status available to Indian Supreme Court judges.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from the office only through the process of removing on the same ground as an SC judge by Parliament. This means that the President can remove him based on a resolution passed by a special majority of both Houses of Parliament on the ground of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.
  • No other Election Commissioner or Regional Commissioner shall be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner to the President.

4Q. What are the independent provisions of the Election Commission provided by the Constitution of India?

Ans:

  • The tenure of the Chief Election Commissioner is protected by the Constitution of India.
  • The Constitution of India guarantees the service conditions of the Chief election commissioner and should not change to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualification concerning education, administration, or judicial to become a member of the election commission.
  • The Constitution does not specify the term of office of members of the Election commission.
  • The Constitution does not prohibit retired election commissioners from any subsequent appointment by the Government.

5Q. What are the functions of the Election Commission?

Ans: Following are the functions of the Election Commission:

  • The main function of the Election Commission of India is to be responsible for free and fair elections in the country.
  • The Election Commission should periodically prepare revised voter lists and register all eligible voters across the country.
  • It will grant recognition to political parties in the country and as well as the commission will assign election symbols to them.
  • The Election Commission appoints independent officials to investigate disputes related to election arrangements.
  • The Election Commission ensures that political parties and competitors strictly should follow the Model Code of Conduct. 

     


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