Election Commission – Composition and Functions
The Election Commission is a permanent and independent constitutional body established under Article 324 of the constitution. The Election Commission is responsible for preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of all elections of Parliament, State Legislature and all elections of office of President and Vice President. The Election Commission is not responsible for conduct of elections of local govt such as of Panchayat or Municipal Corporation.
Composition of Election Commission
- The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and such number of other election commissioner as President may from time to time fix. The CEC and other commissioners are appointed by President subject to the provisions of law made Parliament.
- If more Election commissioners are appointed then CEC shall act as the Chairman.
- The President can appoint any number of regional commissioners as he deemed necessary.
- In 1989, age of voting is changed from 21 to 18 yrs and President appoints two more election commissioners to cope with extra burden but abolish the posts after general election. Again in 1993, President appoints two more election commissioners and till then Election Commission is working as a multi member body.
- However CEC act as chairman, but all of three election commissioners enjoy same powers, salary and emoluments. The all matters are decided by majority of members if any difference of opinion.
- Term of Office – They hold office for a term of 6 yrs or till attains age of 65 yrs.
Powers and Functions
- To determine the territorial constituencies of all over India as per recent Delimitation act of the Parliament.
- To control preparation of electoral rolls and revised it time to time and register new voters.
- To notify dates and schedules of elections.
- To register and recognize political parties, grant them status of national or state parties after poll results and allocate symbols to parties.
- To determine the Code of Conduct (Aachar Sanhita) to be abide by political parties and candidates at time of elections. Also determine comprehensive policy for Media at time of elections such as ban on exit polls until election of all phases or states have been completed.
- To advise President and Governor on matters related to post election disqualifications of sitting MPs and MLAs. The advice of Election Commission is binding on President or Governor as case may be.
- In the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the Supreme Court and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinion on the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period. The opinion is again binding on SC or HC or President as case may be.
- To advise President for new necessary staff and regarding election in a state where President Rule is continuing.
- To cancel polls in event of rigging, booth capturing, violence and other irregularities.
- Quasi Judicial Functions –
- The Election Commission act as court for settling disputes regarding recognition of political parties and allotted symbols and appoint officers to inquire into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
- The Election Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law.
- The Election Commission has also the power for removing or reducing the period of such disqualification as also other disqualification under the law.
- Security of Tenure – The office of CEC is provided with the security of tenure. He can’t be removed from office except on same grounds as a judge of the SC. It means that resolution (can be initiated only on ground of Proved misbehaviour or incapacity) related to CEC removal should be passed by special majority (more than 2/3rd present and voting) in both houses of the Parliament.
- The conditions of service of CEC shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
- The other commissioners can’t be removed from office except on the recommendations of the CEC.
- The Constitution has not prescribed any qualifications for the members of Election Commission and nothing is specified regarding minimum number of members.
- The Parliament is authorized to make laws regarding all matters related to elections, preparation rolls and delimitation of constituencies. The any law relating to delimitation and allotment of seats can’t be questioned in any court of law.