Composition and Function of Election Commission in India


The Election Commission is a permanent and independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country. Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction, and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India, and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission. 

Thus, the Election Commission is an all-India body in the sense that it is common to both the Central government and the state governments. It must be noted here that the election commission is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission. 

Composition State Election Commission consists of a Chief Elector Officer and as many members and staff specified as are required by the Acts of respective State Governments. State Election Commissioners are independent persons not holding positions or offices in any Central or State Government organizations.

Composition and Function of Election Commission in India. One of the most important and critical contributions of the Indian constitution to the organization and functioning of democratic governments particularly in the newly independent state was the provision for an election commission in India.

The election commission has the right to allow symbols to the political parties. It gives recognition to the national parties, state parties, and regional parties. It sets limits on poll expenses. The commission prepares electoral rolls and updates the voter's list from time to time.

Election Commission is responsible for the fair conduct of electoral processes during elections in India.

As Pandit H. N. Kunzru remarked 'If the electoral machinery is defective or is not efficient or is worked by the people whose integrity cannot be depended upon, democracy will be poisoned at the source.”

Articles 324 to 392 A in Part XV of the Indian Constitution contain provisions relating to Elections.

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

Composition of the Election Commission in India

Article  324 of the Indian constitution provides for the Election commission and its composition. This Article says that the election commission in India shall consist of a Chief Election Commissioner and
 such other Commissioners as the President may from time to time fix.

Ever since Mr. Sukumar Sen was appointed Chief Election Commissioner by Dr. Rajendra Prasad India's first President. The Election Commission remained a single-member body until the early 90's when along with Mr. T. N. Sheshan as Chief Election Commissioner,  Mr. G. S. Gill, and Mr. K. V. Krishna Murthi were appointed as Election Commissioners for the first time. Thus, the election commission in India became a multi-member body.

Elections are of vital importance to the functioning of democracy in India. Article 324 of the constitution of India says that the superintendent's direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls, and the conduct of elections of the President, both Houses of the parliament and state legislature shall be vested in the election commission of India. The Indian constitution says that the election commission in India shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such other commissioners as the President may deem fit. The President may also appoint regional commissioners to assist the election commission in the performance of its functions. Except in 1952 before the first General election when two regional commissioners were appointed, the such regional commissioner has never been appointed. Instead, there is a deputy election commissioner.

The election commissioners in India are not only appointed by the President, their conditions of service and tenure of office are determined by the President. They can be removed only through the process through which a judge may be removed. Their condition of service cannot be varied during their tenure of office to their disadvantage. These are aimed that making the election commission in India function impartially.

Over the years an electoral apparatus has been built up in India. Functioning under the election commission there is a Chief Electoral Officer in each state, below the electoral officer there are the electoral registration officers and at the next lower level there are the Presiding Officers and Polling Officers. All these officers are drawn from the cadres of state government employees.

The functions of the Election Commission are of vital importance. It is on the satisfactory performance of these functions that the democratic process largely depends.

The commission prepares the electoral's rolls which are revised before every general election to union or state legislatures.

It supervises the machinery of the election, it notifies the dates of elections, conducts elections, recognizes political parties, allows those symbols, and enforces a code of conduct for the political parties.

It also sees that voters can exercise their franchise without fear or lure. It is an important function of the commissioner to see that peace is not disturbed. For these election meetings, processions and propaganda, etc. are strictly regulated by the commission.

In a poor country like India, the voters are often exposed to a monetary allurement or physical intimidation. All these have to be checked by the vigilant election commission. In one word the election commission's one very important duty is to prevent all kinds of electoral corruption and to ensure a free and fair poll.

It was admitted on all hands that the election commission became an ineffective body and that the electoral process became vitiated by large-scale corruption, violence, and intimidation. It was only Mr. T. N. Sheshan when he became the Chief Election Commissioner, that bold steps have been taken to ensure free and fair polls.

1. The Election Commission shall consist of the chief election commissioner and a 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 as regional commissioners as he may consider it 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 determined by the president.

 Since its inception in 1950 and till 15 October 1989, the election commission functioned as a single-member body consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner. On 16 October 1989, the president appointed two more election commissioners to cope with the increased work of the election on account of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years.

Thereafter, the Election Commission functioned as a multimember body consisting of three election commissioners. However, the two posts of election commissioners were abolished in January 1990 and the Election Commission reverted to its earlier position. Again in October 1993, the president appointed two more election commissioners. Since then and till today, the Election Commission has been functioning as a multi-member body consisting of three election commissioners. The chief election commissioner and the two other election commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salaries, allowances, and other perquisites, which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.

In case of a difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and/or two other election commissioners, the matter is decided by the Commission by the majority. They hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. They can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.

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