(Last Updated on : 22/04/2014)
Election Commission of India is a constitutional body which is responsible for the maintenance of the electoral procedure in the country. The Constitution of India
has vested in the Election Commission of India the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India. Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.
Composition of Election Commission of India
Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. For the first time two additional Commissioners were appointed on 16th October 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1st January 1990. Later, on 1st October 1993 two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision making power by majority vote.
Appointment and Tenure of Commissioners
The Indian President
appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India
. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by the Indian Parliament
Functions of Election Commission
Plenary powers vested in the Commission under Article 324 are supplemented further by Acts of Parliament, namely, Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951, Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952, Government of Union Territories Act 1965, Delhi Administration Act 1966 and the rules and orders made under them. It is responsible for planning and executing a whole range of complex operations that are required for conducting elections.
The duties of the Commission are:
(a) to superintend, direct and control the preparation of electoral rolls;
(b) to conduct elections/bye-elections for Parliament, State Assemblies, and the offices of the President and Vice- President;
(c) to receive election petitions challenging the validity of elections and appoint tribunals to enquire into them;
(d) to examine the returns of election expenses filed by the candidates; and
(e) to entertain and decide the applications for removal of such disqualifications.
The Commission also functions as a quasi-judiciary body in case of electoral disputes and other matters involving the conduct of elections.
Independence of Election Commission of India
Independence of the Election Commission and its insulation from executive interference is ensured by a specific provision under Article 324(5) of the Constitution that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and conditions of his service shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment. The other Election Commissioners cannot be removed from office except on recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Political Parties and Election Commission
Indian Political Parties
are registered with the Election Commission under the law. The Commission ensures inner party democracy in their functioning. Political Parties so registered with it are granted recognition at the State and National levels by the Election Commission on the basis of their poll performance at general elections according to criteria prescribed by it. The Commission, as a part of its quasi-judicial jurisdiction, also settles disputes between the splinter groups of such recognised parties. Election Commission ensures a level playing field for the political parties in election fray, through strict observance by them of a Model Code of Conduct evolved with the consensus of political parties. The Commission holds periodical consultations with the political parties on matters connected with the conduct of elections; compliance of Model Code of Conduct and new measures proposed to be introduced by the Commission on election related matters.