Rajya Sabha TV The Big Picture- Importance of Voting
PRELIMS: Indian Polity and Governance, Current events of national importance
MAINS: GENERAL STUDIES II – Governance, Constitution, Polity)
India celebrated its 9th National Voters Day on 25 January 2019. The celebration was initiated in 2011 on the 61st foundation day of Election Commission of India. It aims to increase the participation of voters and to encourage newly eligible voters as they attain the present voting age of 18 years.
ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA
- It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering electoral processes in India formed on 25 January 1950.
- It administers elections to the Lok Sabha, State Legislative assemblies, and the offices of the President and Vice President in India.
- Article 324 of the Indian Constitution mentions about composition, functions, etc of the Election Commission.
- The Representation of People Act, 1951 provides for the conduct of elections of the Houses of the Parliament and to the House(s) of the Legislature of each state. It was enacted under Article 327 of Indian Constitution.
- COMPOSITION (since the Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989) = Chief Election Commissioner + 2 Election Commissioners (usually retired IAS officers).
- At state level, Election Commission is assisted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the State (an IAS officer of Principal Secretary rank).
- At the district and constituency levels, the District Magistrates and other officers perform election work.
- REMOVAL FROM OFFICE: The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his office similar to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court of India. Other Election Commissioners can be removed by the President of India on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
- FUNCTIONS: It serves as the guardian of elections in the country. Conducting elections at regular intervals is very essential for a democratic policy.
- MODERNISATION: The commission has been working on new technologies to bring fairness ton the election procedure. Introduction of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-verified paper audit trial (VVPAT) are steps in this direction. The symbol of None of the Above (NOTA) has also been added on the voting machines.
VOTING RIGHTS IN INDIA
- Since 1950, all adult citizens are recognized by the Constitution of India, irrespective of race, gender or religion for voting in the Republic of India.
- Thus, India has a concept of “universal suffrage”.
- Universal suffrage is provided in Article 326 of the Constitution of India.
- Voting in India is a legal right, given by the Representation of People Act, 1950.
- The 61st Amendment Act, 1988 by amendment of Article 326, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years. This amendment was done according to the provisions of Article 368 that required ‘special majority’ of the Parliament and ratification by at least one half of the State Legislatures.
- Many nations of the world took many years to give voting rights to all its citizens. For example, Switzerland denied the right to vote to women till 1973.
NATIONAL VOTERS DAY
- It is celebrated on 25th January every year since the year 2011 to mark Election Commission’s foundation day.
- It encourages more voters to take part in political process.
- It observes a different theme every year. Theme for year 2019 was “No voter to be left behind”.
- President Ram Nath Kovind presented awards for best electoral practices to District Collectors, Superintends of Police and other functionaries involved in election management on 25 Jan 2019.
- National voters Day 2019 was celebrated in over 6 lakh locations covering about 10 lakh polling stations in India.
The voting patterns in India has been improving with every election. The efforts done by Election Commission of India in creating awareness for voting and modernising the election process is appreciable. India is today recognised as the largest democracy in the world which conduct multi-party elections with voting done by a huge number of voters.
- PRELIMS 2017
Right to Vote and to be elected in India is a
- Fundamental Right
- Natural Right
- Constitutional Right
- Legal Right
- PRELIMS 2017
Consider the following statements:
- The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
- Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
- Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/ mergers of recognised political parties.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- a and b
- Only b
- b and c
- Only c