Electoral Reforms In India

Independent panel to appoint EC members

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ECI

Mains level : Various constitutional bodies

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking the constitution of an independent collegium to appoint members of the Election Commission.

Election Commission of India (ECI)

  • The ECI is a constitutional body responsible for administering elections in India according to the rules and regulations mentioned in the Constitution of India.
  • It was established on January 25, 1950.
  • The major aim of the election commission of India is to define and control the process for elections conducted at various levels, Parliament, State Legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President of India.
  • It can be said that the Election Commission of India ensures the smooth and successful operation of the democracy.

Functions

According to Article 324 of the Indian Constitution:

  • the ECI has superintendence, direction, and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature (state legislative assembly & state legislative council) of every State and to
  • the offices of President and Vice-President of India

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
  2. Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
  3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognized political parties.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2017)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 3 only

Its composition

  • Initially, the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. Presently, it consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • For the first time, two additional Commissioners were appointed on 16th October 1989 but they had a very short term till 1st January 1990.
  • Afterwards, on 1st October 1993, two additional Election Commissioners were appointed.
  • The concept of a multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision-making power by majority vote.

Appointment & Tenure of Commissioners

  • The President has the power to select Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have a tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They have the same status and receive pay and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The CEC can be removed from office only through accusation by Parliament.
  • The election commissioner or a regional commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.

Why such demand for independent collegium?

  • The plea filed has said that the practice of government making the appointments is a violation of the Basic Structure of the Constitution and creates a dent in free and fair elections in a democracy.
  • The petition said the recommendation to have a neutral collegium to fill up vacancies in the Election Commission has been given by several expert committees, commissions from 1975.
  • The recommendation was also part of the Law Commission in its 255th report in March 2015.

Basis for such demand

  • The EC is not only responsible for conducting free and fair elections, but it also renders a quasi-judicial function between the various political parties including the ruling government and other parties.
  • In such circumstances, the Executive cannot be the sole participant in the appointment of members of the Election Commission as it gives unfettered discretion to the ruling party.
  • Therefore it could appoint someone whose loyalty is ensured and thereby renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation.
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rashi jain
rashi jain
1 year ago

d