Election Commission of India

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The Election Commission of India is an indissoluble body established by the Constitution of India in 1950. The Election Commission works independently to ensure free and fair elections all over India. In this article, we will learn about the formation and functions of the ECI and related facts. ECI is part of your general awareness and static GK syllabus for most competitive examinations such as SBI PO, IBPS PO, IBPS SO, RBI Grade B, RBI Office Attendant, NABARD Grade A, NABARD Grade B, NPS Trust Officer Grade A, ECGC PO and teaching examinations among others.

Functions of the Election Commission of India

The powers and functions of the Chief Election Commission of India (ECI) are derived from Article 324 (Part XV) of the Constitution. Article 324 states that: 

“Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.”In light of the statement pronounced by the Constitution of India, the Election Commission of India derives several powers and functions. Let us study these in more detail below.

  • Conducting free and fair elections: The fundamental function of the Election Commission of India is to hold and ensure free and fair elections in India. As we will study below, all of the ECI’s other functions are directly related to ensuring unbiased and peaceful electoral practices and participation among the citizens of the country. The ECI is in charge of conducting the following elections.
  1. Parliamentary elections (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha)
  2. State legislative assembly elections
  3. President and Vice-president elections
  4. Parliament and state legislature by-elections (if the need arises)
  • Preparing electoral rolls: An electoral roll is a compiled list of persons who are entitled to or eligible to vote in a particular type of election. The Election Commission of India should prepare these rolls correctly. For this, citizens need to register as voters with the ECI. 
  • Issuing Voter ID cards: The Voter ID card is an identity document issued by the Election Commission of India to every citizen of India 18+ years and above. This voter ID is mandatory to be considered eligible for voting. 
  • Recruiting staff as and when required: , The ECI appoints staff members to conduct the elections smoothly. The Election Commission of India can request the government for the recruitment of staff (for example from the army or police) for proper organization of elections and to prevent malpractices such as rigged voting, false voting, booth jams and such.
  • Appointing election observers: Closely related to the previous point is the appointment of election observers. Observers for the Election Commission of India are appointed by the powers conferred by the Representation of People Act 1951 (see below), in section 20B. They assist the ECI to ensure free and fair elections without any violence or malpractices.
  • Observing political parties: The election commission must monitor the behaviour and actions of political parties during the elections.
  • Planning the election schedule: The ECI plans the election schedule which is then presented by the Election Commissioner through a press conference.  
  • Conducting by-elections: The election commission is also responsible for conducting by-elections in any constituency whenever the need arises.
  • Cancellation of election:  If the situation arises, the Election Commission of India has the power to postpone or cancel elections. If an election is canceled, the ECI has to order a fresh one.
  • Recognizing new political parties: An aspiring political party can only be validated and recognized by the Election Commission of India. 
  • Allotting party symbols: Once, it has been recognized, the party symbol is allotted by the Election Commission as well. 
  • Disqualification of candidate: The Election Commission of India has the right to disqualify candidates if they have not filed their election returns to the ECI on time. Similarly, the ECI advises the president to remove MPs and MLAs if they are found guilty of any sort of malpractice as per guidelines. 
  • Providing information to the media: Mandatorily, the Election Commission of India must provide regular information and updates to the media concerning the preparation for elections, polling and its conduction. For this, the ECI releases press which you can read here
  • The Quasi-judicial role: The election commission performs some quasi-judicial functions such as ensuring that the model code of conduct is followed in the area(s) where elections are being held. The ECI also advises on matters when any electoral malpractice is involved or suspected.

The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The Representation of the People Act, 1951 is an enactment by the Parliament introduced by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar before the first General elections. In essence, this Act expands upon the political procedure as pronounced in the Constitution. The Act provides guidelines on all aspects of the election procedure right up to the minutest detail. For a clearer picture, some of the aspects discussed in The Representation of People Act are given below:

  • Qualification for membership of the council of states (Rajya Sabha)
  • Qualifications for membership of the house of the people (Lok Sabha)
  • Qualifications for membership of a legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
  • Disqualifications for membership of parliament and state legislatures
  • Disqualifications for voting
  • Notification of general elections
  • Administrative machinery for the conduct of elections
  • Registration of political parties
  • Conduct of elections
  • General procedure at elections
  • Declaring and conducting polls
  • Counting votes

You can read the entire Act here

Election Commission of India Logo - UPSC Indian Polity

The logo for the Election Commission of India was designed by Patna-based designer Amitabh Pandey. The logo symbolizes the equality of the citizens of India without the barriers of class, caste, race, gender and such. The enclosed stable form in the logo represents the power and full-proof nature of elections in India. From the idea as it was conceptualized by the writers of the Constitution, to its actual execution over the years, the enclosed form of the logo stands for transparency and uprightness in elections.

Autonomy of the Election Commission of India

As we have already learned from Article 324, the Constitution of India has placed the total powers concerning the management and execution of elections with the Election Commission of India. Nonetheless, to ensure free and fair implementation of the same, some provisions have been put into place. Let us learn about these provisions that aid in the independent functioning of the ECI.

  • The chief election commissioner is provided security of tenure. He/She cannot only be removed through a complicated method by the President of India. This removal is possible only if a resolution is moved which is then passed with a special majority in both the Houses of Parliament. It is generally quite difficult to achieve this special majority in Parliament. 
  • As such, while the chief election commissioner is appointed by the President, he does not hold his office until the pleasure of the president.
  • Once appointed, the conditions of service of the chief election commissioner cannot be changed to his disadvantage.
  • Only the chief election commissioner can recommend the removal of any regional commissioner from his position of service.

Electoral Literacy Clubs

The Electoral Literacy Club is an initiative undertaken by the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program (SVEEP) for voter education, political education and increased participation from citizens. The Election Literacy Club is a forum established by the Election Commission of India to educate young children about the electoral processes in India. More importantly, the Election Commission of India aims toward increased participation of young citizens in electoral practices and political activities. Electoral Literacy Clubs have been established in schools, colleges and rural communities. As is quite evident, the target group from which the Election Commission of India encourages increased participation is school children, young adults and members from rural communities.

Election Commission of India Trivia

  • The first Chief Election Commissioner of India was Sukumar Sen (1950-198) .
  • The present Chief Election Commissioner of India (24th incumbent) is Sushil Chandra.
  • The first General Elections were held in India in 1951-52. 
  • The first General Elections were held in Chini (now Kinnaur) district of Himachal Pradesh. 
  • At a given time, the Election Commission of India has around 300 members.

List of Chief Election Commissioners of India.

 Chief Election CommissionerTerm of Office
1Sukumar Sen1950-1958
2Kalyan Sundaram1958-1967
3S.P. Sen Verma1967-1972
4Nagendra Singh1972-1973
5T. Swaminathan1973-1977
6S.L. Shakdhar1977-1982
7R.K. Trivedi1982-1985
8R.V.S Peri Sastri1986-1990
9V.S. Ramadevi1990-1990
10T.N. Seshan1990-1996
11M.S. Gill1996-2001
12James Michael Lyngdoh2001-2004
13T.S. Krishnamurthy2004-2005
14B.B. Tandon2005-2006
15N. Gopalaswami2006-2009
16Navin Chawla2009-2010
17S.Y. Quraishi2010-2012
18V.S Sampath2012-2015
19Harishankar Brahma2015-2015
20Nasim Zaidi2015-2017
21Achal Kumar Jyoti2017-2018
22Om Prakash Rawat2018-2018
23Sunil Arora2018-2021
24Sushil Chandra2021- present

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Also read:

List of Vice-Presidents in India and their Term of Office.

Indian States and Union Territories with their Capitals.

Top 10 Longest Rivers of the World.

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