Composition and Functions of Election Commission of India
Elections are an important part of democratic government. If the elections for electing the representatives are not fair and impartial, people lose faith in the entire democratic system. Thus, to make sure that elections are free and fair, the Constitution of India (Article 324) provides for an Election Commission.
It consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and some other members (at present, there are two other members). They are appointed by the President of India. Their terms and conditions of service are determined by the Parliament.
The normal tenure of the Election Commissioners is 6 years. However, they can be removed from office by the same procedure by which a judge of the Supreme Court can be removed.
Functions of Election Commission:
The main functions of the Election Commission are as under:
(i) The superintendence, direction and control of elections. To conduct elections and to look after all the problems connected with elections.
(ii) To prepare electoral rolls and get them revised before every election.
(iii) To supervise the machinery of elections throughout the country so that the elections are held in a free and fair manner.
(iv) To conduct the elections of President, Vice-President, members of both the Houses of Parliament, members of Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of various States.
(v) Delimitation of Constituencies.
(vi) To give recognition to political parties as All India Parties or Regional Parties on the basis of the votes received by them in the last elections.
(vii) To allot symbols of various political parties and independent candidates. It hears and settles all the disputes with regard to symbols.
(viii)To cancel polls in case of large scale rigging, irregularities or violence.
(ix) To give opinion to the President of India about the possibility of holding elections in a State under President’s rule after the expiry of six months.
(x) To advise the President or a Governor on matters pertaining to disqualification of a legislator.
(xi) To conduct by-elections for filling up vacancies in Parliament or any State legislature.
Very few Election Commissions in the world have such wide ranging powers as the Election Commission in India. Initially the Election Commission did not use all its powers but in the last 15 years or so it has begun to exercise all the powers given to it by the constitution and has been even asking for more powers.
Now, it is very common for the Election Commission to reprimand the government and the administration for their lapses and negligence. If the Election Commission feels that the election in a particular constituency was not fair, it often cancels the polling and order a re-poll in some polling booths or even the entire constituency and order for fresh polls.