The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering 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 Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and subsequently enacted Representation of the People Act.
The Commission has the powers under the Constitution, to act in an appropriate manner when the enacted laws make insufficient provisions to deal with a given situation in the conduct of an election.
Powers of Election Commission
- Its powers are plenary i.e. uncontrolled by the executive. But EC’s powers apply only where Constitution and laws are silent. EC can’t override any law already made.
- Its actions are subject to judicial review.
- The number of Election Commissioner (EC) may be varied by president from time to time as per the law made by parliament. Currently the limit is Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) + ≤ 4 ECs.
- Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and ECs are appointed by the president and while appointing them the president just consults the CoM.
- CEC and ECs are appointed for ≤ 6 years or 65 years of age. ECs if promoted to CEC can hold office only till there combined tenure as EC + CEC is ≤ 6 years. EC can’t be reappointed as EC and CEC can’t be reappointed as CEC.
- ECs can be removed by president only on the recommendation of CEC and the president is not bound by such a recommendation. CEC cannot be removed except in a manner like Supreme Court judge.
Reforms suggested by Election Commission
- While appointing CEC and ECs, the president should consult a high level panel comprising of Prime Minister + Law Minister + leader of opposition in House of People (Lok Sabha) . Such recommendation shall be binding.
- ECs should be removed only in a manner like SC judge. Upon retirement the CEC and ECs shouldn’t be allowed to hold any office of profit under the state (currently they are allowed to) neither be allowed to join any political party for ≥ 10 years from retirement.
- While appointing CEC seniority principle should be followed.
Regional Election Commissioner
- He is appointed by the president on recommendation of Election Commission on the event of an election to House of People or Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council to assist the EC in discharging its duties. So far none have been appointed and his functions have largely been taken care of by chief electoral officer who is a permanent officer.