Powers And Functions Of Election Commission Of India

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Table of contents

1. Introduction..................................................................04 2. What The Constitution Says.......................................05 3. Election Commission Of India....................................07 4. Powers Of Election Commission Of India................08 5. Fuctions Of Election Commission Of India...............09 6. Chief Election Commissioners...................................14 7. Conclusion...................................................................15 8. Bibliography.................................................................16



A few days ago, Varun Gandhi, who is proposed to be a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, made a highly condemnable hate speech against a minority community in an attempt to communalise the election atmosphere in the country and attempt to polarise voters on a communal basis. Obviously such an attempt is totally unconstitutional and also constitutes a serious criminal offence. The Election Commission, by a unanimous order, advised the BJP not to nominate Varun Gandhi as a candidate. The BJP leadership has declared that it would defy that advice. The important question is: what are the powers and duties of the Election Commission in this situation? Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of elections to Parliament are vested in the Election Commission. In Bhim Singh Vs. Election Commission (1996) 4 S.C.C. 188, the Supreme Court held thus: “Having due regard to the ground realities we must emphasise that functionaries in any manner concerned with duties to conduct, supervise and control of free, fair and peaceful election to the House of People and the legislative assemblies of the States need to adopt a realistic, pragmatic and flexible approach to ensure that the country shall be governed in its true secular, socialist, democratic prospective.” The powers and obligations of the Election Commission to ensure a proper election which is free and fair, and to maintain a proper atmosphere conducive to such an election, are derived from Article 324. It can exercise any power which is necessary to achieve this objective even if the Conduct of Elections Act and the rules made thereunder do not confer such powers specifically. This principle has been forcefully established by a Constitution Bench comprising five judges of the Supreme Court and authored by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, in Mohinder Singh Gill Vs. The Chief Election Commissioner AIR 1978 S.C. – 851.


What the constitution says..

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

ARTICLE 324. (1) 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 [1] Constitution shall be vested in a Commission (referred to in this Constitution as the Election Commission).

(2) 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 1 behalf by Parliament, be made by the President.

(3) When any other Election Commissioner is so appointed the Chief Election Commissioner shall act as the Chairman of the Election Commission.

(4) Before each general election to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of each State, and before the first general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council of each State having such Council, the President may also appoint after consultation with the Election Commission such Regional Commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the Election Commission in the performance of the functions conferred on the Commission by clause (1).


The words “including the appointment of election tribunals for the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with elections to Parliament and to the Legislatures of States” omitted by the Constitution (Nineteenth Amendment) Act, 1966, s. 2.


(5) Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine: Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment: Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner. (6) The President, or the Governor[1] of a State, shall, when so requested by the 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)


The words “or Rajpramukh” omitted by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, s. 29 and Sch.



The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, quasi-judiciary constitutional body of India. Its mission 1 is to conduct free and fair elections in India. It was established on 25 January 1950 under Article 324 of the Constitution of India. The commission presently consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners, appointed by the president. Until October 1989, there was just one Chief Election Commissioner. In 1989, two Election Commissioners were appointed, but were removed again in January 1990. In 1991, however, the Parliament of India passed a law providing for the appointment of two Election Commissioners. This law was amended and renamed in 1993 as the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Amendment Act 1993. As of 7 April 2011, the CEC is Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his office by Parliament with two-thirds majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. The Election Commission shall consist of a Chief Election Commissioner and such other Commissioners as the President may, from time to time, fix. Other Election Commissioner can be removed by the President on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner. Salary of chief election commissioner is same as justice of supreme court of India. All three commissioner have same right of taking a decision. Tenure of commissioners is 6 years or up to age of 65, whichever is earlier. The Election Commission of India has completed more than 300 elections. The Election Commission shall have the power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to parliament and the state legislatures and of elections to the office of the President and Vice-President.


About ECI". Election Commission of India



The Election Commission Of India enjoys the following powers. 

The Election Commission enjoys complete autonomy and is insulated from any kind of executive interference.

The body also functions as a quasi-judiciary body in matters of electoral disputes and other matters involving the conduct of elections.

Its recommendations and opinions are binding on the President of India. However, the decisions of the body are liable for independent judiciary reviews by courts acting on electoral petitions.

The Election Commission is responsible for planning and executing a whole amount of complex operations that go into the conduct of elections, however Election forces and the Police is deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission which takes effective control of personnel, movable and immovable Government Properties it deems necessary for successful completion of the electoral process

Apart from conducting elections to representative bodies, the Election Commission has been on many occasions, called upon by the Courts to oversee and execute elections to various governing bodies of other autonomous organizations, such as Syndicates of Universities, statutory professional bodies, etc.



The following are the principle functions of the Election Commission of India: 1.

Demarcation of Constituencies

The Electoral Commission, as the authority empowered by the Constitution and the laws of the land to demarcate the boundaries of constituencies and electoral areas has to see to it that: o

It is neutral , objective and non-partisan in its approach to the demarcation exercise.


The appropriate rules and regulations are applied in its demarcation exercises


The needed resources are procured and applied effectively.


The staff who undertake the exercise are well trained and adequately motivated in order to prevent the incidence of bias.


The exercise is well monitored and co-ordinated.


Data collected from the field exercise is well processed and stored.


The petitions arising out of the exercise are resolved


The necessary consultations are made with stakeholders including the Attorney General’s Department and the Ministry of Local government.


The necessary instruments giving legal backing to the newly demarcated boundaries are drafted and put before parliament.



The newly drawn electoral boundaries are put into effect.


The necessary linkages are established between electoral boundaries and administrative boundaries.

2. Preparation of Electoral Rolls.


The Electoral Roll

The electoral roll is a list of all people in the constituency who are registered to vote in Indian Elections. Only those people with their names on the electoral roll are allowed to vote. The electoral roll is normally revised every year to add the names of those who are to turn 18 on the 1st January of that year or have moved into a constituency and to remove the names of those who have died or moved out of a constituency. If you are eligible to vote and are not on the electoral roll, you can apply to the Electoral Registration Officer of the constituency, who will update the register. The updating of the Electoral Roll only stops during an election campaign, after the nominations for candidates have closed.


Computerisation of Rolls

In 1998 the Commission took a historic decision to computerise the entire electoral rolls of 620 million voters. This work has been completed and now well printed electoral rolls are available. The photo identity card number of the voter has also been printed in the electoral rolls, for cross linking. The printed electoral rolls as well as CDs containing these rolls are available for sale to general public. National and State parties are provided these free of cost after every revision of electoral rolls. Entire country's rolls are also available on this website. o

Electors' Photo Identity Cards (EPIC)

In an attempt to improve the accuracy of the electoral roll and prevent electoral fraud, the Election Commission ordered the making ofphoto identity cards for allvoters in the country in Aug, 1993. To take advantage of latest technological innovations, the Commission issued revised guidelines for EPIC Program in May 2000. More than 450 million Identity cards has been distributed till now.

3. Recognition of Political parties and allotment of symbols.



Registration with Election Commission

Political parties have to be registered with the Election Commission. The Commission determines whether the party is structured and committed to principles of democracy, secularism and socialism in accordance with the Indian Constitution and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. Parties are expected to hold organisational elections and have a written constitution. o

Recognition and Reservation of Symbols

According to certain criteria, set by the Election Commission regarding the length of political activity and success in elections, parties are categorised by the Commission as National or State parties, or simply declared registered-unrecognised parties. How a party is classified determines a party’s right to certain privileges, such as access to electoral rolls and provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations - All India Radio and Doordarshan - and also the important question of the allocation of the party symbol. Party symbols enable illiterate voters to identify the candidate of the party they wish to vote for. National parties are given a symbol that is for their use only, throughout the country. State parties have the sole use of a symbol in the state in which they are recognised as such Registered-unrecognised parties can choose a symbol from a selection of ‘free’ symbols.

4. Scrutiny of nomination papers.


You have filed the nomination paper and other candidates would have also done so. The next stage in the election process is the scrutiny of nomination papers by the Returning Officer. The Returning Officer is required by law to hold the scrutiny of all nomination papers received by him on the date fixed for scrutiny in this election time table issued under section 30 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.


The scrutiny of nomination papers takes place on the day immediately following the last date for filing nominations. Thus, if today is the last date for filing nominations then tomorrow will be the date for scrutiny of nominations. But if tomorrow is a public holiday then the scrutiny of nominations will take place day after tomorrow provided it again is not a public holiday. In other words, scrutiny of nominations papers cannot be held as pointed out already on a public holiday.


By whom scrutiny of nomination papers is held:The scrutiny of nomination papers can be held only by the Returning Officer. This function cannot be delegated by the Returning Officer even to an Assistant Returning Officer. There is only one exception, that is to say, an Assistant Returning Officer may be authorised by the Returning Officer to hold the scrutiny of nominations if, and only if, the Returning Officer is unavoidably prevented from performing the function relating to the scrutiny of nominations (see the provision to section 22 (2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951).



Who may attend scrutiny of nominations:-

According to law only four persons in the case of each candidate may attend at the place where scrutiny takes place. These four persons are : (1) the candidate himself, (2) the candidate's election agent, (3) any one of the proposers of the candidate and (4) one other person authorised in writing by the candidate. Even if you have filed the maximum number of nomination papers from the same constituency namely four nomination papers and there are four or more different proposers, even then only one proposer can be present at the scrutiny. Thus only four persons for each candidate can be present, and if there are, say, for example, ten candidates who have filed nomination papers from a particular constituency then in all forty persons can be present at the scrutiny. It will be better for you if the fourth person to be authorised by you in writing at the time of scrutiny is a lawyer conversant with election law so that he may adequately protects your interests at the time of scrutiny. It will also be to your interests if you yourself can be present at the scrutiny. o

Reasonable facilities for examination of nomination papers:The four persons (including yourself) who can be present on your behalf at the time of scrutiny have a right to have all reasonable facilities for examining the nomination papers of all the candidates which are taken up for scrutiny by the Returning Officer. This is a valuable right for you and the three other persons who may be present along with you, namely, your election agent, one of your proposers and the person authorised by you.


Objections which may be raised : You should not raise any flimsy or technical objections in regard to any nomination paper. Similarly you or the person representing you should oppose any objection raised against your nomination on flimsy or technical ground. Section 36(4) of the Representation of the People act, 1951 clearly lays down that the Returning Officer shall not reject any nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial character. Rule 4 of the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961 lays down that the failure to complete or defect in completing a declaration regarding symbols in the nomination papers is not a defect of a substantial character. Therefore, if any of your opposing candidates raises any objection regarding a defect which is not of a substantial character you or any of the persons who may be present on your behalf may oppose it. It has already been pointed out that on the presentation of a nomination paper the Returning Officer will satisfy himself that the names and the electoral roll numbers of the candidate and his proposer as entered in the nomination paper are the same as those entered in the electoral rolls. The Returning Officer may not therefore reject your nomination paper on the ground of any misnomer or any inaccurate description or clerical or technical or printing error in regard to your name or the name of your proposer or any other person or in regard to any place mention in the electoral roll or nomination paper, etc., provided that such description in regard to any name and place is such as to be commonly understood. If at the time of scrutiny any objection is raised regarding such misnomer or inaccurate description etc., you may draw immediate attention to the proviso to section 33(4) of the Representation of the People act, 1951.

5. Scrutiny of election expense of candidates.



Limit on poll expenses There are tight legal limits on the amount of money a candidate can spend during the election campaign. Since December 1997, in most Lok Sabha constituencies the limit was Rs 15,00,000/-, although in some States the limit is Rs 6,00,000/- (for Vidhan Sabha elections the highest limit is Rs 6,00,000/-, the lowest Rs 3,00,000/-). Recent amendment in October 2003 has increased these limits. For Lok Sabha seats in bigger states, it is now Rs 25,00,000. In other states and Union Territories, it varies between Rs 10,00,000 to Rs 25,00,000. Similarly, for Assembly seats, in bigger states, it is now Rs 10,00,000, while in other states and Union Territories, it varies between Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 10,00,000. Although supporters of a candidate can spend as much as they like to help out with a campaign, they have to get written permission of the candidate, and whilst parties are allowed to spend as much money on campaigns as they want, recent Supreme Court judgments have said that, unless a political party can specifically account for money spent during the campaign, it will consider any activities as being funded by the candidates and counting towards their election expenses. The accountability imposed on the candidates and parties has curtailed some of the more extravagant campaigning that was previously a part of Indian elections .


Free Campaign time on state owned electronic media By Election Commission, all recognised National and State parties have been allowed free access to the state owned electronic media-AIR and Doordarshan- on an extensive scale for their campaigns during elections. The total free time allocated extends over 122 hours on the state owned Television and Radio channels. This is allocated equitably by combining a base limit and additional time linked to poll performance of the party in recent election.

6. Conduct Of Polls


Supervising Elections, Election Observers The Election Commission appoints a large number of Observers to ensure that the campaign is conducted fairly, and that people are free to vote as they choose. Election expenditure Observers keeps a check on the amount that each candidate and party spends on the election.


Counting of Votes After the polling has finished, the votes are counted under the supervision of Returning Officers and Observers appointed by the Election Commission. After the counting of votes is over, the Returning Officer declares the name of the candidate to whom the largest number of votes have been given as the winner, and as having been returned by the constituency to the concerned house.



Media Coverage In order to bring as much transparency as possible to the electoral process, the media are encouraged and provided with facilities to cover the election, although subject to maintaining the secrecy of the vote. Media persons are given special passes to enter polling stations to cover the poll process and the counting halls during the actual counting of votes.

Chief Election Commissioners The following have held the post of the Chief Election Commissioner of India. 1. Sukumar Sen: 21 March 1950 to 19 December 1958 2. K.V.K. Sundaram: 20 December 1958 to 30 September 1967 3. S.P. Sen Verma: 1 October 1967 to 30 September 1972 4. Nagendra Singh: 1 October 1972 to 6 February 1973 5. T. Swaminathan: 7 February 1973 to 17 June 1977 6. S.L. Shakdhar: 18 June 1977 to 17 June 1982 7. R.K. Trivedi: 18 June 1982 to 31 December 1985 8. R.V.S. Peri Sastri: 1 January 1986 to 25 November 1990 9. V.S. Ramadevi: 26 November 1990 to 11 December 1990 10. T.N. Seshan: 12 December 1990 to 11 December 1996 11. M.S. Gill: 12 December 1996 to 13 June 2001 12. J.M. Lyngdoh: 14 June 2001 to 7 February 2004 13. T.S. Krishnamurthy: 8 February 2004 to 15 May 2005 14. B.B. Tandon: 16 May 2005 to 28 June 2006 15. N. Gopalaswami: 29 June 2006 to 20 April 2009


16. Navin Chawla: 21 April 2009 to 29 July 20101 17. S.Y. Quraishi: 30 July 2010 onwards2


The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, quasi-judiciary constitutional body of India. Its mission 3 is to conduct free and fair elections in India. It was established on 25 January 1950 under Article 324 of the Constitution of India. The commission presently consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners, appointed by the president. We discussed the powers of Election Commission Of India and the functions of Election Commission Of India as well.We had a quick look over all the Election Commissioners selected from time to time.

1 2

Navin Chawla takes over as CEC on Tuesday". CNN-IBN. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21. Quraishi new Chief Election Commissioner". The Hindu. 28 July 2010.



Books referred 

THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA : P.M. BAKSHI Publication – Universal law publishing co.




Websites used :  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Commission_of_India  eci.nic.in  www.nios.ac.in


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