Election Commission of India

Election Commission of India
Election Commission of India

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act. The Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution, to act in an appropriate manner when the enacted laws make insufficient provisions to deal with a given situation in the conduct of an election.

Originally in 1950, the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. Two additional Commissioners were appointed to the commission for the first time on October 16, 1989 but they had a very short tenure, ending on January 1, 1990. The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Commission a multi-member body. The concept of a 3-member Commission has been in operation since then, with the decisions being made by a majority vote.

The Chief Election Commissioner of India can be removed from his office by the Parliament with a two-thirds majority in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the grounds of proven misbehavior or incapacity. Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President of India on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner. A Chief Election Commissioner has never been impeached in India. In 2009, just before the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, CEC N. Gopalaswami sent a recommendation to President Patil to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who was soon to take office as the Chief Election Commissioner and to subsequently supervise the Lok Sabha Election, citing his partisan behavior in favor of one political party. The President opined that such a recommendation is not binding on the President, and hence rejected it. Subsequently, after Gopalaswami’s retirement the next month, Chawla became the Chief Election Commissioner and supervised the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections.

The power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the local government bodies vest with the State Election Commissions as envisaged in Article 243K of the Constitution of India. The Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, passed in 1992 by the Narasimha Rao government, came into force on April 24, 1993. It was meant to provide constitutional sanction to establish “democracy at the grassroots level as it is at the state level or national level” The State Election Commissioner(SEC) has several unique powers pertaining to the elections to Local Bodies.

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