Introduction: Central Election Commission
The Election Commission is known as a constitutionally neutral body across the country. Its headquarters is situated in New Delhi. According to Article 324 of the Constitution, the Commission is entrusted with the responsibility and powers to oversee and manage the activities related to elections. The responsibilities of the Election Commission are to conduct and oversee the elections of the President, the Vice-President, Parliament, and the State Legislative Assemblies.
Articles 324 to 329 (Chapter 15) of the Indian Constitution deal with the Election Commission and its functions. The first Election Commission of Independent India was formed in 1950 to strengthen the foundations of democratic governance and to control free and fair elections. The Election Commission is a permanent and independent body.
|President of India
|25 Jan 1950
|Free and fair election
Important facts of Central Election Commission
The Election Commission consists of a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and two Election Commissioners.
Previously, the Election Commission consisted of a Chief Election Commissioner from 1950-1999. Subsequently, an election commission was formed with other members.
However, the number of other election commissioners is not specified in the constitution. The President determines the required number of members.
They are appointed by the President of India and hold office for a fixed tenure. The process of formation of a three-member Central Election Commission began in 1990 when T.N. Seshan was the Chief Election Commissioner (1990-1996) of India.
Voters also cast their votes by postal ballot. Experimentally, EVM was first used in the 1982 Kerala Assembly elections. VVPAT was introduced in 2013 (Nagaland) and its use in general elections has been fully introduced since 2014. NOTA was added to EVM in 2014.
Note: According to the Amendment Act of 1989, the election commission had three members, although the first two additional Election Commissioners were appointed in 1989 (temporarily) which expired in January 1990.
Note: According to the Ordinance of the President (that time Shankar Dayal Sharma), the three members of this Election Commission were: (1) T. N. Seshan (2) MS, Gill (3) T.S. Krishnamurti. The Chief Election Commissioner acts as the head and chairman of the Election Commission. The President appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and other members.
Independence and Autonomy:
The Election Commission functions independently and is not subject to control by the government. The Election Commission is known for its independence and autonomy. Once appointed, the Commissioners cannot be removed from office except in the same manner and on the same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.
Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners
The President completed the appointment process on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the leaders of the opposition party. In addition to the three members of the Election Commission, the Deputy Election Commissioners also participate in the function of the Election Commission. They were appointed to the Election Commission from the public service.
Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Retirement Secretaries may also work at the Commission Secretariat. All Election Commissioners enjoy equal opportunities in terms of power, rank, salary, and allowances. Other election commissioners, including the Chief Election Commissioner, share the same salary allowances and other privileges, just like the judge of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners are elected by the law enacted in Parliament. At present, the Chief Election Commissioner is appointed for 6 years.
Removal of ECI
If the motion against the Chief Election Commissioner is passed with the support of a majority of both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and the voting of members present (with a 2/3 majority), the President may remove him. He or she can only be removed on the basis of incompetence and misconduct.
Powers and Functions of the Central Election Commission
Elections are conducted by the Election Commission on the basis of universal adult suffrage. In 1984, the president could appoint six regional election commissioners for six regions. The President may appoint them for 6 months on the recommendation of the Election Commission. The powers and functions of the Election Commission can be divided into three parts, namely: (1) Administrative, (2) Consultative and (3) Semi-Judicial.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) performs a range of important functions related to the conduct of elections and the democratic process in India. These functions are vital for ensuring that elections are conducted fairly, transparently, and in accordance with the principles of democracy. Here are the key functions of the Election Commission of India:
- Superintendence, Direction, and Control of Elections: The ECI exercises superintendence, direction, and control over the conduct of elections to various offices, including the President, Vice-President, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies. This involves overseeing all aspects of the electoral process.
- Delimitation of Constituencies: The ECI is responsible for the delimitation of constituencies, which involves determining the boundaries and territorial divisions of electoral constituencies to ensure equitable representation.
- Electoral Roll Preparation and Revision: The ECI prepares and periodically revises the electoral rolls, which list the names of eligible voters. This ensures that eligible citizens have the opportunity to vote and that voter lists are accurate.
- Registration and Regulation of Political Parties: The ECI registers political parties and regulates their functioning to ensure compliance with election-related laws and regulations.
- Conducting Elections: The primary responsibility of the ECI is to conduct elections. This includes setting election dates, accepting nominations from candidates, organizing polling stations, conducting the voting process, and overseeing the counting of votes.
- Model Code of Conduct (MCC): The ECI enforces the MCC during election periods. The MCC is a set of guidelines that regulate the conduct of political parties and candidates to ensure a level playing field during elections. It covers issues such as campaigning, election expenses, and behavior.
- Voter Education and Awareness: The ECI promotes voter education and awareness through campaigns like “Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation” (SVEEP). These initiatives aim to increase voter participation and educate citizens about their rights and responsibilities.
- Monitoring Election Expenditure: The ECI monitors and regulates election expenses incurred by political parties and candidates. It sets expenditure limits and ensures compliance with financial disclosure rules.
- Security Arrangements: The ECI coordinates with law enforcement agencies to ensure adequate security arrangements during elections, especially in sensitive or conflict-prone areas.
- Appointment of Election Officials: The ECI appoints and deploys election officials, including returning officers, presiding officers, and polling staff, to conduct elections smoothly.
- Allocation of Symbols: The ECI allocates symbols to political parties and independent candidates, which are used on the ballot paper to identify them.
- Election Observers: The ECI appoints election observers to monitor the electoral process in specific constituencies or states. These observers ensure that elections are conducted fairly and transparently.
- Declaration of Election Results: The ECI is responsible for the official declaration of election results. It ensures the accuracy of vote counting and announces the winners.
- Addressing Electoral Malpractices: In case of electoral malpractices, the ECI has the authority to take corrective measures, including ordering re-polling in specific constituencies.
- Recommendations and Reports: The ECI submits reports and recommendations to the President of India, the Governor of a state, and the government on various election-related matters, such as disqualification of legislators and electoral reforms.
- Coordination with State Election Commissions: While the ECI oversees national and state-level elections, it also collaborates with State Election Commissions for the conduct of local body elections (Panchayat and Municipal elections) in states and Union territories.
These functions collectively empower the Election Commission of India to fulfill its constitutional mandate of conducting free, fair, and transparent elections and upholding the principles of democracy in the country.
Therefore we may summarize the power and function of the Election Commission of Indian as follows.
- Electoral field or area identification.
- Preparation and control of ELECTORAL ROLL (VOTER LIST) and issuance of EPIC card.
- Submission and withdrawal of nomination papers, the publication of election date, and schedule.
- To advise the President and the Governor on matters relating to eligibility and disqualification of members.
- Postponement or cancellation and re-election.
- Provide distinct electoral symbols to political parties.
- Registering political parties and granting them the status of a separate state or national party (Registration started in 1989).
- To control Election campaign schedule, radio and television broadcasting, and rallies.
- To form a commission of inquiry to investigate the controversy (election-related).
- Establish a code of conduct for political parties, candidates, government, government employees and voters.
- Appoint an Inspector to ensure that the rules laid down by the Commission are being complied with.
- Calculation of the number of votes and publications of results etc.
Since the Election Commission does not have its own staff, the President and Governors appoint the required number of government employees (for a period from the start to the end of the election).
The salaries and allowances of the members of the Election Commission are carried out by the Reserve Expenditure Fund of India. The qualifications and tenure of the members of the Election Commission are not specified in the Constitution, so they are governed by laws enacted by Parliament or by the President.
Sukumar Sen was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India (1950 to 1958).
The Election Commission conducts elections by secret ballot or electronic voting machine (EVM). The secret ballot was used in the first general elections of 1951-1952. In 1998, EVMs were first used in assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi (Union Territory), and Rajasthan.
List of Chief Election Commissioners of India
|Duration of Office
|21/3/1950 – 19/12/1958
|20/12/1958 – 30/9/1967
|S.P Sen Verma
|1/10/1967 – 30/9/1972
|1/9/1972 – 6/2/1973
|7/2/1973 – 17/6/1977
|S. L. Shakdhar
|18/6/1977 – 17/6/1982
|R. K. Trivedi
|18/6/1982 – 31/12/1985
|R. V. S. Peri Sastri
|1/1/1986 – 25/11/1990
|V. S. Ramadevi
|26/11/1990 – 11/12/1990
|T. N. Seshan
|12/12/1990 – 11/12/1996
|M. S. Gill
|12/12/1996 – 13/6/2001
|James Michael Lyngdoh
|14/6/2001 – 7/2/2004
|T. S. Krishnamurthy
|8/2/2004 – 15/5/2005
|B. B. Tandon
|16/5/2005 – 29/6/2006
|30/6/2006 – 20/4/2009
|21/4/2009 – 29/7/2010
|S. Y. Quraishi
|30/7/2010 – 10/6/2012
|V. S. Sampath
|11/6/2012 – 15/1/2015
|16/1/2015 – 18/4/2015
|19/4/2015 – 5/7/2017
|Achal Kumar Jyoti
|6/7/2017 – 22/1/2018
|Om Prakash Rawat
|23/1/2018 – 1/12/2018
|2/12/2018 – Present
FAQs Central Election Commission
Central Election Commission GK: An important general knowledge note of the topic Central Election Commission of India for IAS, UPSC, and other competitive examinations.