EC ‘WAKES UP TO ITS POWERS’
17, Apr 2019
Prelims level : Polity and Governance Mains level : GS-II (Important aspects of governance, transparency and IR)
Why in news:
- EC’s action against leading political leaders for their communally provocative and divisive speeches.
Background: / Election Commission of India:
- The Election Commission of India, is a constitutional body responsible for administering elections in India according to the rules and regulations mentioned in the Constitution of India.
- It was established on January 25, 1950. The major aim of election commission of India is to define and control the process for elections conducted at various levels, Parliament, State Legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President of India. It can be said that the Election Commission of India ensures smooth and successful operation of the democracy. According to Article 324 of Indian Constitution, the Election Commission of India has superintendence, direction, and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature (state legislative assembly & state legislative council) of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.
Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners
- The President has the power to select Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
- They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They have the same status and receive pay and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through accusation by Parliament. Election commissioner or a regional commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Advisory Jurisdiction & Quasi-Judicial Functions
- The Commission has the power to prohibit a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner set by law.
- The Commission has also the power Under the Constitution, the Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post-election ineligibility of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
- Additionally, the cases of persons found guilty of dishonest 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 judgment of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered.
- to remove or reduce the period of such disqualification as also other disqualification under the law.
- To decide the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
- To organize and periodically amend electoral rolls and to register all qualified voters. To inform the dates & schedules of election and to scrutinize the nomination papers. To grant recognition to political parties & allot election symbols to them.
- To act as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and allotment of election symbol to them.
- Art. 324: broadly speaks of the functions of EC and its composition.
- Art. 325: there shall be one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election to either Houses of Parliament and State legislature. It establishes equality among citizens by affirming that no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in the electoral roll on the grounds of religion, race, caste or sex. Art. 326: lays down adult suffrage as the basis of elections to the Lok Sabha and to the Legislative Assemblies of States. Art. 327: confers on Parliament the power to make provisions with respect to elections to federal and State Legislatures. Art. 328: confers on State Legislature the power to make laws with respect to elections to such legislature
- Art. 329: bars interference by courts in electoral matters. Notwithstanding anything said in the constitution i.e. validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies shall not be called in question in any court
- The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
- The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government. The administrative expenses of the EC or the salaries, allowances, and pensions of the CEC and ECs are not charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.