- The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission. If the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.
Powers and responsibilities
- The Commission’s functions and powers with respect to elections are divided into three categories (Administrative, Advisory, and Quasi-judicial). In detail, these powers include
- Determining the Electoral Constituencies’ territorial areas throughout the country;
- Preparing and periodically revising electoral rolls and registering all eligible voters;
- Notifying the schedules and dates of elections and scrutinising nomination papers;
- Granting recognition to the various political parties and allocating them election symbols;
- The Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post-election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures;
- It issues the Model Code of Conduct in elections for political parties and candidates so that no one indulges in unfair practice or there is no arbitrary abuse of powers by those in power.
- Article 324 mentions the provisions to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the Election Commission. The chief election commissioner is provided with security of tenure.
- He cannot be removed from his office except in the same manner and on the same grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.
- However, the same constitutional provision is silent about the procedure for removal of the two Election Commissioners. It only provides that they cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.
- In a landmark judgment, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in March 2023, directed that Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners will be appointed by the President on the advice tendered by a committee of Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha or the leader of the single largest party in opposition and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
- The court said the high-powered committee would continue to advise the President on the appointment until the Parliament enacts a law on the appointment process of Election Commissioners.
- Article 324 of the Constitution asks the parliament to make laws for the appointment of CEC. However, till the date it has not been constituted.
- Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners have so far been appointed by the President on the advise of the Prime Minister.
- The judgment has now brought the appointment process of Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners on par with that of the CBI Director.
Why in News?
- The Election Commission has launched a web-portal for filing of Contribution Report, Audited Annual Account and Election Expenditure Statements by Political
- Parties. These financial statements are required to be submitted by political parties to the poll body from time to time as per the Representation of People’s Act and transparency guidelines.
- The online availability of the data is expected to enhance the level of compliance and transparency.