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Indian Polity / Constitutional Offices and Authorities

Composition and Functions of Election Commission of India

Articles 324 to 329 deal with elections and the composition and functions of Election Commission of India. Elections are one of the important components of a democratic set up. In order to make certain that the elections are carried on in a free and fair manner, the Indian constitution made a provision for an Election Commission in India. Article 326 talks about Universal Adult Suffrage in India.

Composition of Election Commission of India

  • Article 324 says there shall be an Election Commission of India consisting of one Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) plus such number of other Election Commissioners as decided by the President of India but regulated by the Parliament of India through an Act.

  • Constitutionally it is a multi-member body. The election commissioners and the CEC are appointed by the President of India. They are nominated for a tenure of 6 years or until they accomplish 65 years of age whichever is earlier.

  • Election Commission was a single membered body up to 1989. When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, it was made as a multi membered body by appointing two other commissioners.

    However, when V.P. Singh became the Prime Minister in 1990, Election Commission was reverted back to single member body.

    When P.V. Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister, Election Commission of India was made into multi member body through an Ordinance of the President which was later approved by the Parliament.

Appointment and Removal of Election Commissioners

  • No specific qualification is mentioned for CEC or Election Commissioners in the Constitution. Senior bureaucrats are usually appointed.

  • Their salary is on par with judges of the Supreme Court. They are also eligible for pension after their retirement and their emoluments cannot be reduced except during financial emergency.

  • Chief Election Commissioner is removed like that of Judges of the Supreme court. He can be removed by the President if a resolution is passed with special majority by both the Houses of Parliament on the reasons of incapacity or misbehavior.

    However, other Election Commissioners are removed by President on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner on the reasons of incapacity or misbehavior. However, such recommendation is not binding on the President to act.

Functions of Election Commission of India

  • Election Commission prepares and makes revision of the electoral rolls from time to time. It conducts all elections except for the local body elections, which are conducted by State Election Commissions.

    Election Commission of India conducts elections of the President, Vice-President, Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Assembly and Legislative Councils.

  • President issues election notification on the advice of the Election Commission of India in case of Parliament. Similarly, Governor of State issues notifications for elections of Assembly and Council on the advice of Election commission of India.

  • It allots party symbols as well as election symbols for political parties. The returning officer of the constituency allots the election symbol for independent candidates.

  • Election Commission also appoints the polling officers, returning officers and all the election staff. They all will be under the control of Election Commission. Election Commission of India does not have separate staff.

    It avails the services of Central and State Government employees with the permission of the President and the Governor. It is a compulsory assignment to these employees.

  • It also settles disputes among the political parties regarding their symbols and other related issues. It hears petitions, arguments and delivers judgements. Here, it will act like quasi-judicial body.