Elections in India
In a democratic country, elections make a fundamental process. In simple term we can say that election is the process of voting to choose someone as your political leader or representative in the government. As, right to vote is a legal right of the citizen of India which can influence the decisions about how their country is governed.
Importance of Elections
It gives choice of leadership, political participation, through this a person can also raise their voice their resentment against a ruling party and also it is a self-corrective system. Through this system, after every five years, the ruling parties are kept in check and made to consider the demand of the public.
Let us tell you that Articles 324 to 329 in Part XV of the Constitution deals with the Electoral System of India. Article 324 of the Constitution provides for an independent Election Commission in order to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
The elections of Lok Sabha and the state assemblies are to be on the basis of adult franchise. Thus, every person who is a citizen of India and who is 18 years of age, is entitled to vote at the election provided is not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution or any law made by the appropriate legistalture on the ground of non-residence, unsound mind, crime or corrupt or legal practice.
Types of Elections
There are different types of election systems in the world. We can classify these into:
1. Majoritarian systems
2. Proportional Representation Systems
As, discussed above, Article 324 to 329 of the Indian Constitution provides the framework for electoral system in India. So, let us study about election process of India.
Election Process for the Lok Sabha (India)
Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of the adult suffrage. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution is 552. This may include up to 530 members from the states, up to 20 members from the Union Territories. The president can nominate two members from Anglo-Indian community. The 95th Amendment Act, 2009 extended the period for further ten years till 2020.
Below mentioned are the various aspects of elections to the Lok Sabha:
Direct Election: The members of Lok Sabha are elected through direct election by the people. Every citizen of the country, who is more than 18 years of age, can vote in the election irrespective of his/her social status, religion, caste, race etc.
Territorial Constituency: Each state is divided into territorial constituencies for the purpose of elections. One member of Lok Sabha is elected from each constituency. That means, the number of seats for the election are equal to the number of constituencies.
Readjustment of constituencies after each census: After every census, there may be a need to readjust the constituencies; as the delimitation is based on population and not on area.
Reservation of seats for SCs and STs: The constitution provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha. The 95th Amendment Act, 2009 extended the period of reservation for further ten years till 2020.
Indian constitution has not provided for separate electorate, which means that general electorate can also vote in a constituency reserved for SCs or STs. In addition, a member of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes can contest from general constituency.
Election Process for the Rajya Sabha:
Rajya Sabha is the Upper House of Parliament, which cannot have more than 250 members according to the Constitution of India. Members of Rajya Sabha are not elected by the people directly. They are elected by the members of the legislative assemblies of the states in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
Every State is allotted a certain number of members. Representatives of union territories are chosen as prescribed in the law enacted by Parliament.
Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the President, who has earned distinction in the fields of literature, art, science and social service.
Rajya Sabha is a permanent body. It is not subject to dissolution but one-third of its members retire after every two years. At present, Rajya Sabha comprises of 245 members of whom 233 are representatives of the states and union territories and 12 are nominated by the President of India.
Qualification for Membership of Parliament:
Below are the qualifications for a person to be chosen as a member of the parliament:
(i) He/she should be a Citizen of India.
(ii) He/she should subscribe before the person authorised by the election commission an oath according to Third Schedule of the constitution.
(iii) A member for a seat in Rajya Sabha should not be less than thirty years of age.
(iv) A member for a seat in Lok Sabha should not be less than twenty five years of age.
(v) He/she should possess such other qualifications as Parliament may prescribe by law.
Disqualification of the member:
Article 102 of the Constitution lays down the provisions for disqualification for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament:
(i) If he/she holds any office of profit under Government of India or any state.
(ii) If he/she is not a citizen of India or if has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state or acknowledges his allegiance or adherence to a foreign state.
(iii) If he/she is disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.
The parliament has prescribed a number of additional disqualifications in the Representation of People Act, 1951. In addition to these, the Tenth Schedule of the constitution provides for disqualification of the members on ground of defection.
Elections Process for the State Legislative Assemblies
Direct Election: The legislative assembly is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of the universal adult suffrage. The maximum strength is fixed at 500 and minimum strength at 60.
Nominated Member: The governor can nominate one member from Anglo-Indian community if, in his opinion, the community is not adequately represented in the House.
Territorial Constituencies: Each state is divided into territorial constituencies for the purpose of elections. One member of legislative assembly is elected from each constituency.
Readjustment after each census: After each census, a readjustment is to be made in the total number of seats in the legislative assembly of each state and the division of each state into territorial constituencies.
87th Amendment Act, 2003 provided for readjustment of parliamentary constituencies in each state on the basis of 2001 population census without changing the number of seats allotted to each state.
Reservation of seats for SCs and STs: The constitution provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the legislative assemblies.
Elections Process for the Legislative Council
The total number of members in the legislative council of a state having such a council shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the legislative assembly of the state. However, the strength of the legislative councilshould not be less than fourty except Jammu and Kshmir. The actual strength of a council is fixed by the parliament. The composition of legislative council is partly through indirect election partly through special constituencies and partly by nomination.
Therefore, an urgent political reform is the need of the hour, which would include referendum on electoral reform, increase in cooperation across party lines and creating a more transparent and accountable political system in India.