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Sansad TV: In Depth- Election Commission Of India

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ECI:

  • 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, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

Article 324:

Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission

  • The 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)
  • 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
  • When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission
  • The President, or the Governor of a State, shall, when so requested by th Election Commission, make available to the Election Commission or to a Regional Commissioner such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the Election Commission by clause ( 1 )

Other articles related to ECI:

  • Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
  • Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
  • Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
  • Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
  • Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

Appointment needs overhaul:

  • Even in the constituent assembly debates this issue was taken up.
  • Article 324(2) as stated above states that the President shall, with aid and advice of Council of Ministers, appoint CEC and ECs, till Parliament enacts a law fixing the criteria for selection, conditions of service and tenure.
  • But a law has not been enacted for the purpose so far.
  • Hence a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a fair and transparent procedure for appointment of CEC and ECs.
  • The constituent assemble debates in which one of the suggestion said that President will appoint them with the consult of the Prime Minister with two third majority of the joint sitting.

Challenges:

  • The fact remains that it is the executive power of the government and should that executive power be regulated.
  • SC interprets any law on the basis of provisions of constitution and cannot with something extra.
  • Similar demand for other bodies and posts like CAG, Attorney general, etc
  • There is distinction between the position of a CEC & EC and the appointments to both the position may differ according to the task they perform.

Way Forward:

  • 2nd ARC report recommended that collegium headed by the Prime Minister with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Law Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as members should make recommendations for the consideration of the President for appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners
  • Law Commission 255th Report on Electoral Reforms: Strengthening the office of the Election Commission of India recommended Making the appointment process of the Election Commissioners and the CEC consultative
  • Similar election and removal procedure for CEC and Ecs.
  • Expenses of ECI must be charged expenditure on Consolidated Fund of India.