Salient Features of Election System in India
In India, we have indirect democracy. The government is run by the representatives who are elected by the people. To elect their representatives, elections are held from time- to-time. The main features of election system in India are as under:
(i) Universal adult franchise:
In India, elections are held on the basis of Universal Adult Franchise. Every citizen who has completed 18 years of age has been given the right to vote irrespective of his caste, religion, sex, etc.
(ii) Single member constituencies:
It means that the country (or a state) is divided into as many constituencies as the number of seats. One representative is elected from each constituency.
In India, elections are held by secret ballot. Nobody except the voter himself knows in favour of which candidate, he/she has voted.
Before independence, the Britishers had introduced separate communal electorate in India. This proved very harmful for the unity of the country and was one of the main factors for the partition of the country (into India and Pakistan) in 1947.
Under our new Constitution, joint electorate has been introduced. It means that in a constituency, all the voters irrespective of their caste, creed or religion elect only one representative. There is no Hindu, Muslim or Sikh representatives or Constituencies.
Reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes:
In all the elected bodies-Panchayats, Municipal Committees, Legislative Assemblies and even in Parliament-certain seats are reserved for scheduled castes and tribes. Under present conditions, this will be in force till 25th January, 2010. Currently in the Lok Sabha, 79 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 41 for Scheduled Tribes.
In the Panchayat and Nagarpalika elections one-third of the seats are reserved for women candidates. In state legislatures also, seats are reserved for the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Inspired by the success of this system women's movement has been demanding reservation for women in State Legislative Assemblies and Parliament.
(vi) Election petition:
If any voter or a candidate feels that the election in his constituency has not been conducted fairly, he can file an election petition in the court against that election. If the court finds that the charges leveled against that election are true, it can set aside that election.
(vii) Election commission:
For the smooth, fair and impartial conduct of elections the Constitution provides for an Election Commission. It consists of Chief Election Commissioner and some other members. At present, it has one Chief Election Commissioner (B.B. Tandon) and two other members.