Administrative machinery for the conduct of elections in India

Part IV provide for delegation of functions of Election Commission i.e. the functions of the Election Commission under the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and Representation of the People Act, 1951 Act or under the rules made there under may be performed also by a Deputy Election Commissioner or by the Secretary to the Election Commission on the basis of directions as may be given by the Election Commission in this behalf.

Chief Electoral Officer: The Election Commission of India nominates or designates an Officer of the Government of the State/Union Territory as the Chief Electoral Officer in consultation with that State Government/Union Territory Administration.

Chief Electoral Officer of a State/ Union Territory is authorized to supervise the election work in the State/Union Territory subject to the overall superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission.

District Election Officer: The EC nominates an Officer of the State Government as the District Election Officer in consultation with the State Government.

The district election officer is authorized to coordinate and supervise all work in the district or in the area within his jurisdiction in connection with the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the Legislature of the State subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the chief electoral officer.

With the previous approval of the Election Commission, DEO provides a sufficient number of polling stations for every constituency the whole or greater part of which lies within his jurisdiction, and publishes a list showing the polling stations so provided and the polling areas or groups of voters for which they have respectively been provided.

Observer: The Election Commission may nominate an Observer who shall be an officer of Government to watch the conduct of election or elections in a constituency or a group of constituencies. Earlier, the appointment of Observers was made under the plenary powers of the Commission.

But with the amendments made to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in 1996, these are now statutory appointments. They report directly to the Commission. The Observer has the power to direct the returning officer for the constituency or for any of the constituencies for which he has been nominated, to stop the counting of votes at any time before the declaration of the result or not to declare the result if in his opinion booth capturing has taken place.

In case of stopping the counting of votes or non-declaration of result, a report shall be sent by the Observer to the EC, which issue appropriate directions.

Returning Officer: The Election Commission of India nominates or designates an officer of the Government or a local authority as the Returning Officer for each of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies in consultation with the State Government/Union Territory Administration.

Same person can be appointed as the returning officer for more than one constituency. In addition, the Election Commission of India may appoint one or more Assistant Returning Officers for each of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies to assist the Returning Officer in the performance of his functions in connection with the conduct of elections. Every such person must be an officer of Government or of a local authority.

Every assistant returning officer, subject to the control of the returning officer, is competent to perform all or any of the functions of the returning officer except functions which relate the scrutiny of nominations unless the returning officer is unavoidably prevented from performing the said function. While Returning officer may always include an assistant returning officer in performing any function which he is authorized to perform him.

It is the general duty of the returning officer at any election to do all such acts and things as may be necessary for effectually conducting the election in the manner provided by RPA, 1951and rules or orders made there under.

Presiding Officer: The district election officer appoints a presiding officer for each polling station. If a polling officer is absent from the polling station, the presiding officer may appoint any person who is present at the polling station other than a person who has been employed by or on behalf of, or has been otherwise working for, a candidate in or about the election, to be the polling officer during the absence of the former officer, and inform the district election officer accordingly.

Same person can be the presiding officer for more than one polling station in the same premises. It is the general duty of the presiding officer at a polling station to keep order thereat and to see that the poll is fairly taken.

Polling Officer: A polling officer performs all or any of the functions of a presiding officer based upon his direction. 

If the presiding officer is absent from the polling station due to illness or other unavoidable cause, his functions shall be performed by such polling officer as has been previously authorized by the district election officer to perform such functions during any such absence. It is the duty of the polling officers at a polling station to assist the presiding officer for such station in the performance of his functions.

The returning officer, assistant returning officer, presiding officer, polling officer, and any other officer appointed so and any police officer designated for the time being by the State Government, for the conduct of any election shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission during the election period and such officers shall be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission.

By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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