Election commission of India:
The constitution under article 324 provides for an Election Commission for the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for the conduct of elections to parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of president and vice president. Thus, the Election Commission is responsible for both the centre’s and the states’ elections.
Composition Election commission of India:
The constitution provides for the following provisions in relation to the composition of the election commission:
1 The election commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
2. The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
3. When any other election commissioner is so appointed the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
4. The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
5. The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be such as the president may by rule determine.
Though the chief election commissioner is the chairman of the election commission, however his powers are equal to the other election commissioners. All the matters in the commission are decided by the majority amongst its members. The chief election commissioner and the two other election commissioners receive equal salary, allowances and other benefits.
Tenure Election commission of India:
The chief election commissioner and other election commissioners hold office for 6 years or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They can resign at any time by addressing their resignation to the president. The president can remove any of the commissioners following the procedure provided in the constitution.
Powers and Functions Election commission of India:
The powers and functions of the election commission are mentioned below:
1. It determines the territorial area of the electoral constituencies in accordance with the Delimitation Commission Act.
2. It prepares the electoral rolls and revises them from time to time. It registers all the eligible voters.
3. It prepares and notifies the schedule of the election.
4. It receives and scrutinizes the nomination papers from all the candidates in the elections.
5. It registers political parties and grants recognition to them. It provides election symbols to the political parties.
6. It provides the status of national or state parties to the political parties on the basis of their performance in the elections.
7. It acts as court to look into disputes regarding recognition of political parties and allotment of symbols to them.
8. It appoints officers to enquire into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
9. It prepares the time table for the publicity of the policies and programmes of political parties through TV and radio.
10.It ensures that the model code of conduct is followed by all the political parties and all the candidates.
11. It advises the president on matters relating to the disqualification of the members of the parliament.
12. It advises the governor of the state on matters relating to the disqualification of the members of the state legislature.
13. It requests the president or the governor for the necessary staff required for conducting elections.
14. It supervises election machinery and conduct of elections to ensure free and fair elections.
15. It cancels polls in the event of irregularities and wrongdoings during an election.
16. It advises the president whether the elections can be held in a state under president’s rule.
In addition to the three member election commission, there are deputy election commissioners who assist the election commissioners. These officers are drawn from the civil services and are appointed by the election commission with fixed tenure. They, in turn, are assisted by the secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries and under secretaries deputed in the commission’s secretariat.
The chief election commissioner, in consultation with the state government, appoints the chief electoral officer at the state level. The collector acts as the chief returning officer at the district level. Returning officer is appointed for every constituency in the district and presiding officer is appointed for every polling booth in the constituency by the chief returning officer.
Therefore, the election commission is the watch-dog of electoral system in India. It is mandatory for the political parties to file their income tax returns. This move was intended to reduce the use of money and power in elections.
Now, it is mandatory for every candidate who contests elections to file an affidavit giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him. The only positive impact of this is that the information regarding the candidates is easily available to the voters.
Recognition to the Political Parties
The Election Commission is responsible to register political parties in India. It gives recognition to political parties as national or state political parties on the basis of their performance in the elections. These parties are called recognised parties.
The election commission allots a symbol exclusively to every national political party, which is reserved for the party to be used throughout the country. Likewise, every state political party is allotted a symbol which is reserved for that party to be used throughout that state. These symbols are known as reserved symbols, which cannot be used by any other candidate/party. Other candidates can choose from the free symbols.