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Election Commission

Preamble of our Constitution declares India to be a Democratic Republic. Democracy is the basic features of the Indian Constitution. Democracy is sustained by free and fair elections. Only free and fair elections to the various legislative bodies in the country can guarantee the growth of a democratic polity. It is the cherished privilege of a citizen to participate in the processes which place persons in the seats of power. India has been characterised as a biggest democracy in the world because of the colossal nature of the elections held in the Country. At a general elections, an electorate of millions goes to the polls to elect members for the Lok Sabha. The Legislative Assemblies and the Legislatures of the Union Territories.

Free and fair election has been held to be a basic feature of the Constitution.

Establishment of Election Commission

In order to ensure free, fair and impartial elections, the Constitution establishes the Election Commission , a body autonomous in character and insulated from political pressures or executive influence. Care has been taken to ensure that the commission functions as an independent agency free from external pressures from the party in power. Part-XV, Articles 324 to 329 of the Constitution deals with provisions relating to Establishment, Composition, Powers and Functions of Election Commission of India.

According to Article 324(1) the election commission was constituted for purpose of superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission).

Composition of Election Commission

According to Article 324(2), 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 and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.

As per Article 324(3) says that When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.

According to Article 324(4), Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State, and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each State having such Council, the President may also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of the functions conferred on the Commission by clause(1).

Tenure and Safeguard

Article 324(5) Every Election Commissioner has a term of six years from the date he/she assumes office or till he attains the age of 65 years (whichever is earlier). The Chief Election commissioner cannot be removed from his office, except in a like manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court. All the three members are entitled to the same salary and other facilities, as are provided to a judge of the Supreme Court.

Powers and Functions of Election Commission

The election commission plays a pivotal role in the electoral mechanism of the Country. The Election Commission primarily exercises administrative functions but it also has some adjudicative and legislative functions as well.

Article 324(1) assigns the following powers and functions of Election Commission:

  • The Superintendence, direction and control rolls for all elections to Parliament, State Legislatures, Offices of the President and Vice-President;
  • Conduct of all these elections.
  • Prepare, revise and maintain the voter’s list.
  • Delimitation of Constituencies.
  • Advises the President and Governor regarding electoral matters
  • Determine criteria for recognizing political parties Settle election disputes.
  • Election Commission has the power to review its decision as to the expediency of holding the poll on a particular date.
  • When there is no law or rule made under the law, the Commission may pass any order in respect of the conduct of elections.