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Election Commission Of India
Constitutionally established Election Commission of India is a federal authority in the Republic of India to exercise election activities. This Commission is bound with the responsibility to administer electoral processes for elections held for assembly, parliamentary and office to the president and vice-president elections.
The Commission is supervised by Chief Election Commissioner and the team of two Commissioners to conduct elections free and fair. India is vast country and worldâ€™s largest democracy where elections are held regularly for states and national levels. Election Commission of India follows principles of Indian Constitution to conduct elections through using autonomous power as keepers of the law. This permanent body governs through rules having been specified by the Indian constitution.
It was on January 25, 1950 that Election Commission of India was established to conduct elections in the country. This Commission has been given power to conduct elections through working as superintendent and following directions set by it for direction and control of whole election exercise. Commission is responsible for the parliamentary, state legislature and elections to the office of the President and Vice-President by involving its core team.
Election Commission Body
Earlier Election Commission of India body comprised of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two Election Commissioners appointed by the president. A reform held on October 16, 1989 through adding two additional Commissioners by keep in view the increased span of election exercise.
Decision of appointing two additional Commissioners were ceased on January 01, 1990. Two additional Election Commissioners were once again appointed on October 01, 1993 and since then this trend remains in practice.
Removal of Commissioners
The parliament of India comprising of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha has power to remove Chief Election Commissioner from his/her office with two-thirds majority vote in case of proven grounds for any misbehavior or incapacity for said post. The President of India can remove rest Election Commissioners by the recommendation of Chief Election Commissioner on valued grounds.
The Conditions of Service Rules, 1992 is applicable for salaries and allowances of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners which is similar to that of facilities and benefits Judges of Supreme Court of India get under the Indian law. This body comprising of Chief Election Commissioners and two Commissioners have equal rights to make the decision to conduct elections.
Key Functions of Election Commission
Conducting free and fair elections is constitutional duty of Election Commission of India. Commission has to ensure peaceful elections by exercising its power while conducting elections for Parliament and State Legislatures to be conducted under the Article 324 of Indian Constitution. Its other important roles are as follows:-
- Make sure that political parties contesting election and those ruling at Centre or states concerned follow Model Code of Conduct while contesting elections
- Commission must ensure that there is no misuse of official machinery before, during or after elections
- It must ensure that there is no electoral offence from corrupt practices to other malpractices including bribing, impersonation or voter inducement
- Commission has to ensure that voters are not threatened or intimidated
- Thorough direction, superintendence and control during and post elections besides electoral rolls preparation to conduct it free and fair
- Above rules are applicable for elections to Parliament, State Legislatures of all Indian states and to the offices of President and Vice-President
Other Important Responsibilities
Enforcing Model Code of Conduct is an important role which Election Commission must strictly implement. Main purpose of this constitutionally liable conduct is to ensure that political parties and candidates contesting elections are guided to follow set of norms strictly before and during election time. Evolvement of such conducts has been done through mutually agreed consensus of all political parties including ruling to opposition. Commission has responsibility to make contestants abide the principles that has been set under this Model Code of Conduct. They must respect and follow them without questioning.
Election Commission Budget
An independent budget and expenditure is assigned for Election Commission for which its secretariat is allocated by Central Government. The Finance Ministry of Central Government and Commission consult to finalize budget for expenses to incur by the Commission. Concerned constituent units of Centre, State or Union Territories though participate in major expenditure in actual conduction of elections.
The Central Government bears all expenses of Election Commission in case of holding parliamentary elections. If elections are held for State or Union Territories then all expenses are borne by them only. Central and state governments bear the expenses if there is simultaneous election for Parliament and State Legislatures.
Expenses are shared equally for capital equipment and rest expenses electoral rolls preparation, electors' Identity Cards schemes etc.
Chief Election Commissioner of India
Election Commission of India is headed by Chief Election Commissioner who is appointed by the President who also appoints two Election Commissioners of this Commission. All three Commissioners have tenure of six years or until they are of 65 years of age whichever come early. An impeachment by the parliament can be done to remove Chief Election Commissioner.
Review by Judiciary
Election Commission decisions can be reviewed or challenged in any High Court or Supreme Court of India through filing genuine petitions for that purpose. Usually judiciary doesnâ€™t intervene in actual conduct of polls. Challenges can be by standing convention and other judicial pronouncements under the law. Commission doesnâ€™t have right to review election results independently post declaration of results or completion of polls.
Such reviews are done only through election petition process to be filed before any High Court if related to Parliament or State Legislature elections. Such petitions are filed in Supreme Court only if issues pertain to elections for the offices to President or Vice President.
Election Commission has taken many initiatives in the last few decades. Some important initiatives are:-
- Scheme to use the media owned by state to check political criminalization
- Steps for electoral rolls computerization
- Issuance of electorsâ€™ Identity Cards
- Simplification of procedures from account maintenance nomination filling
- Implementation of various measures to ensure strict Model Code of Conduct compliance
Election Commission Coordination
There is coordination between Investigation Division of the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Election Commission to control political expenditures by political parties or candidates for verification purpose in affidavits filed. District Indian Revenue Service officers are involved for election observation.