Introduction – Powers of Election Commission
In this article, we will read the important powers of election commission, composition as well as the appointment of election commissioner and much more.
The election system is the life and soul of democracy because it is through elections, the people elect their representatives, form and change their government.
In case the election system has defected and the election machinery incompetent and corrupt, the very purpose of election is defeated therefore it is very essential that the election machinery is independent and impartial.
Realizing the necessity and importance of independent elections the makers of the Indian Constitution made adequate provisions in the 15th chapter from Article 324-329 to achieve this end.
Article-324 provides – “The Superintendence, Direction, and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of all elections to parliament and to the legislature of every state and election to the office of President and Vice President held under the constitution shall be vested in the election commission
Composition of Election Commissioner – Article 324(2)
Composition of Election Commissioner – Article 324(2) of the Constitution provides that the election commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such members of other election commissioners if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
Article 324(4) provides that before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each state and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each state having such council, the president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioner as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission in the performance of its functions.
Provision of Multi-member Election Commission –
Through an Act of the Parliament passed on December 20, 1993, provisions have been made of a multi-member Election Commission. At present there is one Chief Election Commissioner and two more Election Commissioners, so, in all, there are three members of the election commission.
Sunil Arora is the current 23rd Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners are Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
Appointment of Election Commissioner –
Appointment of election commissioner – According to Art- 324(2), the appointment of the chief election commissioner, the other election commissioner, and the regional commissioners shall be made by the President of India in accordance with the rules laid down by the parliament.
Qualifications of Election Commission –
The constitution is silent with regard to the qualifications of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners. The Election Commissioners appointed to date have been high government officials.
Tenure of Election Commissioners –
According to Article 324(5), the tenure of election commissioners shall be fixed by the president according to the rules laid down by the parliament. A statute passed in December 1993 provides for equal terms for the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners.
Thus, the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners enjoy a 6 years term or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
Removal from Office –
Under Article 324(5) the method of removal from office of the Chief Election Commissioner is the same as that of the judge of the Supreme Court. Thus, the majority of the total members of the two houses of parliament and a two-third majority of the members present and voting shall pass a resolution recommending for the removal and then the president shall remove him from office.
The President, however, can remove from office the other Election Commissioners on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Powers and Functions of Election Commission –
Powers and functions of election commission can be categorized as under :
a) The Superintendence, Direction and Control of Election –
It is the main function or powers of election commission to perform the function of superintendence, direction, and control of elections in the country. It solves all the problems relating to elections and their fair conduct.
b) Preparation of Electoral Rolls –
The Election Commission prepares the electoral rolls and includes in these the names of all the valid voters.
After 10 years and at the time of each general election, necessary changes are made in the electoral rolls.
c) To declare the date of Elections –
It declares the date of elections, it also declares dates for filling the nomination papers and their withdrawal and scrutiny, etc.
If any deficiency is found in the nominations papers of any candidate, his candidature is rejected.
d) To recognize and the derecognize Political Parties –
The next powers of election commission are that it gives recognition to regional and national political parties and in case any political party does not fulfill the requirements, it derecognizes such party.
e) Control over the staff connected with Elections –
The commission can ask for necessary staff from the president and governors respectively to conduct elections at different levels. This stuff works under the control or power of the election commission.
f) To give advice on the disqualification of elected Representatives –
The other powers of election commission is that if there is any dispute about the election of an elected representative, the Election Commission in that matter gives advice to the President and Governors, as the case may be and both the officials decide the case in accordance with such advice.
g) To prepare code of conduct for Political Parties –
In order to create a proper environment for the smooth conduct of elections, the Election Commission prepares a code of conduct for political parties and checks them from adopting corrupt practices.
h) To conduct Election –
It provides that the election commission conducts an election to the office of President and Vice President. It also conducts elections and by-elections to Parliament and State Legislature and declares results.
The election commission is responsible to hold free, fair and impartial elections and to achieve this purpose, it can take any required step.
He appoints observers in many of the constituencies.
i) To establish Polling Stations –
The Election Commission also makes decisions about establishing polling stations. It takes care that the voters may not have to travel a long way to cast their votes.
j) Safety of Ballot Boxes and Counting –
The Election Commission is responsible for the safety of ballot boxes and the smooth counting of votes.
k) To order Repoll –
This powers of election commission could order a repoll if it was convinced that the election held was not fair.
l) To issue Directions –
To conduct free and fair elections, the election commission can issue directions from time to time such as the compulsory use of identity cards, about the use of government vehicles during elections, making video films of the election, etc.
m) To declare ineligible for contesting Election –
This power of election commission provides that after the elections are over every candidate is bound to submit the details of election expenditure within a fixed period and if a candidate fails to do so, the election commission can declare such candidates ineligible for contesting the election in future.
Conclusion – Powers of Election Commission
After reading the functions of election commission, we come to the conclusion that everything related to elections is done by the election commission. Besides this many times, the assembly elections and by-elections have also been held and during all the elections the election commission has played a very impossible and transparent role.
Now the different political parties looked towards the Election Commission both, with respect and fear because they know that in any case, they do something wrong the election commission is not going to spare them.
Independence of Election Commission –
There are made provisions of an independent and powerful constitutional body to hold elections, which made the following provisions to ensure its independence –
a) Constitutional Recognition –
Under Article – 324(1), the Election Commission is regarded as a constitutional body. So, the election commission is the child of the constitution and not an act of the parliament.
b) Fixed Tenure –
The tenure of the members of the election commission is fixed by the law. They stay in their office for 6 years or 65 years of age, whichever they complete early.
c) Difficult method of removal –
It is provided in Article-324(5) of the constitution that the chief election commissioner shall be removed in the same way as the judges of the supreme court.
d) High Salaries –
The members of the election commission have been provided equal status to those of the judges of the supreme court and they get the same salary and allowances which the judges of the supreme court get.
Suggestions to make Election Commission Independent –
Though proper arrangements have been made to ensure the independence of the election commission, yet more is needed to be done such as –
a) Qualifications should be fixed –
The qualification of the members of the election commission is not fixed in the constitution. Though till date only senior bureaucrats have been appointed to this office but in the absence of fixed qualifications, there is always a possibility of the appointment of favored politicians who may not be able to play an impartial role.
So, their qualifications need to be fixed keeping in mind their functions and the role.
b) Clear provisions about the powers of election commission –
There is no clear mention of the powers of the election commission in the constitution.
U/A- 324(1), the election commission is provided the powers of ‘Superintendence, direction, and control’.
But these are vague words and different people have a different opinion about the interpretation of these words. So, the need is to make clear the powers of election commission.
c) The election commission should get the same protection which is given to the chief election commissioner –
The chief election commissioner is provided more security in comparison to other election commissioners as he can remove only through impeachment.
So, the other election commissioners should also be provided the same security which is provided to chief election commissioners.
Frequently Asked Questions –
What are the powers of Chief Election Commission?
The Superintendence, Direction and Control of Election –
It is the main function or power of election commission to perform the function of superintendence, direction and control of elections in the country. It solves all the problems relating to elections and their fair conduct.
What is the composition of Election Commission of India?
Article 324(2) of the constitution provides that the election commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such members of other election commissioners if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
Discuss the appointment of Election Commissioner –
According to Art 324(2), the appointment of the chief election commissioner, the other election commissioner and the regional commissioners shall be made by the President of India in accordance with the rules laid down by the parliament.
What is the tenure of Election Commissioner –
According to Article 324(5) the tenure of election commissioners shall be fixed by the president according to the rules laid down by the parliament.
A statute passed in December,1993 provides for equal terms for the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners.
Thus, the chief election commissioner and the other election commissioners enjoy a 6 years term or till the age of 65 years whichever is earlier.