Election Commission of India

Election Commission and Democracy: Of the people, by the people and for the people

India – The world’s largest democracy with 1.33 billion people is a constitutional democracy where the political authority of the nation lies with the Government of India and is governed by fundamental laws stated in the Constitution.

Being a democratic country, India follows a parliamentary system of governance where the people of India choose their leaders with the system of voting predominant since Independence. The Election Commission of India, established in 1950 has been the major body responsible for the 4 major elections in India which are:

  • Lok Sabha Elections
  • State Legislative Assembly Election
  • Members of Parliament in Rajya Sabha
  • Elections for the members of Local Panchayat and City Council Officials.

Out of these 4, the Lok Sabha elections and the elections held for the Members of Parliament. The citizens of India have the pivotal role in the elections of India – to elect candidates from the various parties in the country, mainly the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party according to who you as a citizen should be in power. The Election Commission is a body which helps you to do so.

Coming to the people who head the Election Commission of India, Mr. Sunil Arora serves as the Chief Election Commissioner along with Mr. Ashok Lavasa and Mr. Suhsil Chandra serving as the Election Commissioners. The Election Commission’s major role in a democracy is to conduct fair and free elections in the country.

List of chief election commissioners in India

The list of chief election commissioners in India are:

Name Date of Joining Date of Leaving Office
Sukumar Sen 21 March 1950 19 December 1958
KVK Sundaram 20 December 1958 30 December 1967
S.P. Sen Varma 01 October 1967 30 September 1972
Dr. Nagendra Singh 01 October 1972 6 February 1973
T Swaminathan 07 February 1973 17 June 1977
S.L. Shakdhar 18 June 1977 17 June 1982
R.K. Trivedi 18 June 1982 31 December 1985
R.V.S. Peri Sastri 01 January 1986 25 November 1990
Smt V.S. Rama Devi 26 November 1990 11 December 1990
T.N. Sheshan 12 December 1990 11 December 1996
M.S. Gill 12 December 1996 13 June 2001
J.M. Lyngdoh 14 June 2001 7 February 2004
T.S. Krishna Murthy 08 February 2004 15 May 2005
B.B. Tandon 16 May 2005 29 June 2006
N Gopalaswamy 30 June 2006 20 April 2009
Navin Chawla 21 April 2009 29 July 2010
S.Y. Qureshi 30 July 2010 10 June 2012
V.S. Sampath 11 June 2012 15 January 2015
H.S. Brahma 16 January 2015 18 April 2015
Dr. Nasim Zaidi 19 April 2015 05 July 2017
Shri AK Joti 06 July 2017 22 January 2018
Shri Om Prakash Rawat 23 January 2018 01 December 2018
Shri Sunil Arora 02 December 2019 Ongoing

Election Laws in India

The two major election laws in India are the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. While the Representation of the People Act, 1950 is related to both preparation and revision of electoral rolls, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 deals with smooth conduct of elections and disputes. It is important to note that Election Commission holds residuary powers to act in an appropriate manner in the conduct of elections, in case any law is silent or does not cover a matter adequately.

Right to Vote

All citizens of India have the right to vote by registering as voters in constituencies where they reside, provided they are 18 years of age as on the first day of the year for which an electoral roll is prepared. It is important to note that individuals who have been disqualified by courts for çorrupt practices or any offense related to elections are not eligible to vote. Similarly, persons with an unsound mind cannot be registered as voters.

Electoral Rolls

An electoral roll is a list of eligible citizens entitled to exercise their franchise. In other words, an electoral roll consists of names of eligible voters who can cast their votes in an election. India is divided into various constituencies. As per Article 82 of the Constitution of India, the Parliament has to enact a Delimitation Act once in 10 years or after every census. The central government sets up a Delimitation Commission which demarcates the boundaries of all parliamentary constituencies. India has 543 Parliamentary constituencies which have been created based on the 2001 census and will be remain so till 2026.

Indian citizens whose names are included in an electoral roll are eligible to vote. It is important to note that an electoral roll is revised on an yearly basis for various reasons including enrolment of new voters who turn 18 in a given year and also include citizens who move into a different constituency among others. In many cases, names of voters who have expired should be removed from an electoral roll. According to election commission, no voter should commute for more than 2 kms to cast his or her vote at a polling booth. Also, no polling booth should have more than 1500 voters. In case an eligible voter does not find his name on an electoral roll, he should file a claim application (Form 6) before the Electoral Registration Officer in his constituency. For deletion of names from the electoral list, form No. 7 is used. Similarly, for any changes in the house number, name, age and so forth of an elector, form no.8 should be used. Form 8A can used in cases where an elector changes his house in the same assembly constituency.

It is important to note that the process of updation of electoral rolls may continue even after the publication of electoral rolls in that individuals can file the required applications for the deletion, transposition, addition and so forth with the Electoral Registration Officer.

An elector has to identify himself with an Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) which is issued by the Election Commission. However, an EPIC alone will not allow an elector to cast his vote in that his name should be listed in the electoral roll for him to exercise his franchise.

Polling

Polling is conducted on different days in different constituencies to ensure law and order for free and fair elections. The Returning Officer draws up the list of candidates who compete in a given election after all candidates complete the process of filing their nominations. Ballot papers are then printed along with the names and symbols of candidates. Candidates who hail from nationally or regionally recognised parties are provided the symbols of their respective parties.

The date and hours for polling are fixed by the Election Commission of India before all elections. Voting at all polling booths set up in public institutions across the country is held by secret ballot. An elector is allocated a ballot paper, provided his or her name is mentioned in the electoral roll. An elector has to indicate his choice of candidate by marking his ballot paper with a stamp on the related symbol. After marking his choice, an elector has to put his ballot paper in a ballot box in the presence of the Presiding Officer and some polling agents. However, the Election Commission since 1998 has advocated the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) rather than ballot boxes. The Election Commission appoints many observers for smooth conduct of elections and also keep a check on the money spent by candidates and parties.

Upon entering a polling booth or station, an elector has to go to the First Polling Officer who is in charge of proper identification of electors. The First Polling Officer announces the name of the elector and his serial number in the presence of polling agents. The elector then has to proceed towards the Second Polling Officer who will mark his left forefinger with an indelible ink, following which, the former has to sign in the Register of Voters. The Second Polling Officer will then give the elector a voter’s slip. The elector has to give the voter’s slip to the Third Polling Officer who will then press the ‘ballot’ button on the voting machine. The elector should then proceed to the voting compartment based on his serial number in the voters’ register.

In case an elector decides not to exercise his franchise, he must inform the presiding officer who will then take the former’s voter’s slip and make an entry in the remarks column of the Register of Vote. In case an elector finds that his vote has already been cast as informed by the First Polling Officer, he should bring it to the notice of Presiding Officer of the polling station. After the polling process is complete, the counting of votes is duly supervised by the observers and Returning Officers. The Returning Officer announces the name of the winner (s).

Credentials of competing candidates

The Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for all candidates to file affidavits along with nomination forms with details of their criminal antecedents, assets, liabilities and educational background. All Indian citizens of the country can, if they wish to, acquire copies of affidavits and nomination forms of candidates from Returning Officers.

Corrupt Electoral Practices

There are several practices which are considered electoral offenses as listed below:

  • Accepting money or any other form of gratification to vote for a candidate
  • Acceptance of gifts and liquor among others to not vote for a candidate
  • Offer free conveyance to electors as inducement to influence voting decisions
  • Offering any form of inducement to voters on the basis of caste, religion or place of birth
  • Threatening electors with excommunication

It is important to note that no voter should disclose details of who he voted for. In case a voter violates the secrecy, he will be booked under Section 128 of Representation of People Act, 1951.

Grievance Redressal mechanisms

In case an elector has any issue related to elections, he may contact some officials as listed below:

Officer Level
Officer Level
Chief Electoral Officer State
District Election Officer District
Returning Officer Constituency
Assistant Returning Officer Taluka
Electoral Registration Officer Constituency
Presiding Officer 1 Polling Station
Zonal Officer Polling Stations

FAQs on Election Commission of India

>Who is the current Election Commissioner of India?

Currently, Mr. Ashok Lavasa and Mr. Sushil Chandra are the Election Commissioners of India who serve under the Chief Election Commissioner. All the members of the Election Commission are elected by the President of India.

What is Election Commission of India?

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous authority for conducting the elections in India. It was established in 1950. It comes under the jurisdiction of the Government of India and is headquartered in New Delhi. The Commission conducts the Union and State elections in the country administrating the elections for the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies and the offices of the President and Vice-President of the country.

What is the role of the Election Commission of India?

The Election Commission’s role is to conduct fair and free elections for the citizens of India. As a part of a democratic country, it is a responsibility of the citizens to elect leaders from the various parties in order to voice their demands and needs in the Lok Sabha.

Who appoints the Election Commission of India?

The Election Commission of India includes the Chief Election Commissioner along with two Election Commissioners. All the members are elected by the President of the country.

Who was the first woman Chief Election Commissioner of India?

V.S. Ramadevi was the first woman Chief Election Commissioner of India. She held office from 26 November 1990 to 11 December 1990.

Who is the current Chief Election Commissioner of India?

Mr. Sunil Arora is the current Chief Election Commissioner of the country. He took up office on 2 December 2018.

Who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India?

Mr. Sukumar Sen was the first Chief Election Commissioner of the country serving from 21 March 1950 to 19 December 1950.

How many members are present in the Election Commission of India?

The Election Commission of India comprises of three members which include the Chief Election Commissioner along with two Election Commissioners. All of them are elected by the President of India.

Who can remove the Chief Election Commissioner of India?

The Chief Election Commissioner of India can be removed the Parliament on the grounds of proven incapacity or misbehaviour. He or she can only be removed by two-thirds of the majority in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

*Disclaimer

News About Election Commission

  • Law Ministry to consider the proposal by Election Commission to check Aadhaar data of voters

    Considering a proposal made by the Election Commission of India, the Law Ministry will be providing statutory backing to the commission to collect the Aadhaar numbers of new voters and existing voters to check for multiple entries during elections.

    A Supreme Court order in 2015 had put a halt to the Election Commission’s project which would link the Aadhaar number of electoral data of voters and check multiple entries in the electoral rolls. During that time, the poll panel was collecting the Aadhaar number as a part of its National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Program.

    The Election Commission has proposed the same in a letter to the Law Ministry to seek the provisions of the Representation of the People Act to be amended. This amendment would allow the Election Commission to seek the Aadhaar numbers of people who are applying to be voters and the people who are already existing voters.

    According to a senior ministry official, action is being taken. In August, the Election Commission had sent a proposal stating that the electoral law should be amended to empower the electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of existing voters along with the ones who are applying for a voter ID.

    This is being done solely to check for multiple entries in the electoral rolls and make them free of errors.

    10 October 2019

  • EC Announces Bypolls To 64 Assembly Seats, 1 Lok Sabha Constituency

    Bypolls to 64 Assembly seats will be held on 21st October, 2019 with the counting to take place on 24th October. The Election Commission also announced 1 Lok Sabha bypoll in Samastipur constituency in Bihar.

    15 seats in Karnataka and 11 in Uttar Pradesh are among the 64 bypolls, with the 1 Lok Sbaha by-election due to the death of the sitting MP earlier this year.

    Bypolls in West Bengal have been postponed at the request of the government, who cited Durga Puja festivities.

    The Satara Lok Sabha bypoll will not be held on 21st October, when state Assemble elections have been scheduled for Maharashtra. The Chief Election Commissioner stated this election will be held after Assembly elections, at a date to be announced later.

    The notification for bypolls will be issued on 23rd September, with the nomination process beginning on the same day.

    21 September 2019

  • Election Commission may announce dates for polls in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana soon

    The poll dates for the assembly elections in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana could be announced by the Election Commission on 19 September, according to reports. Sources close to the Election Commission had revealed earlier in the week that it could take 2-3 weeks for the poll dates to be announced, but fresh inputs have emerged to suggest that the announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow. The sources also revealed that the notifications for polls to Maharashtra and Haryana will go out first, while the elections for 3 state assemblies, viz. Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana are due before 31 December. The Jharkhand Assembly is set to go to polls later, and it is reported that several phases could be involved because of the left-wing extremism threat in addition to the deployment of forces. Taking the trend into consideration, the poll schedule for Haryana and Maharashtra for the elections in 2014 were announced on 20 September and voting commenced on 15 October. The voting in Jharkhand in 2014 was done in 5 phases between 25 November and 23 December. The elections in the 3 aforementioned states are expected to get underway in October 2019.

    17 September 2019

  • Top Election Commission Team to inspect polling issues; includes Model Code of Conduct Violations

    Eight working groups have been appointed by the Election Commission in order to inspect particularly specific areas such as the violations on the Model Code of Conduct during the Lok Sabha polls. The legal aspects of enforcing the code is also an issue these teams were assigned to look into.

    Once the investigations were done, the team is said to report back to the Election Commission and submit the recommendations. The team is said to be headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioners, Deputy Election Commissioners. It also comprises of senior officials till the rank of the Director-General along with 8 nodal Chief Electoral Officers.

    The Election Commission held a meeting with the Chief Electoral Officers of all the Union Territories and States on 3 June 2019.

    Among the 8 groups, one of them will be reviewing matters on the electoral roll and polling stations. They will be checking the health of the electoral rolls in order to make them completely error-free. Another team will be looking into election planning and management where they will be checking on matters related to the scheduling of polls, simultaneous elections, and deployment of armed forces.

    The constant issue of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail will be investigated by another team who will be working towards the counting of paper slips and checking inventory management.

    To check on the various ways for effective action in Model Code of Conduct matters and database management, there will be a group assigned on MCC, Manifestos, Observers and Political Parties. Among the 8 groups, one will also be assigned to stimulate a higher voter awareness and turnout in various constituencies and states. This team will also deal with social media issues and paid news.

    04 June 2019

  • EC issues notice to Navjot Sidhu for his 'personal remarks' against Narendra Modi at Ahmedabad rally

    Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has been sent a notice by the Election Commission of India over his alleged personal remarks against Narendra Modi at a rally on 17 April in Ahmedabad. Sidhu has been asked to reply to the notice by 6 pm on Thursday.

    During the rally, the Congress minister had claimed that the Narendra Modi-led government is asking the poverty-stricken and hungry people to practice yoga and get bank accounts. Last month, the former Indian cricketer was banned from campaigning for 72 hours by the Election Commission.

    This was a result of the controversial remarks that he had made which was seen as a violation of the poll code.?He was served a show cause notice for his comment wherein he urged the Muslims to vote to defeat Narendra Modi.

    1 May 2019

  • Electoral bonds a cause of major concern for EC

     The electoral bonds are proving to be a cause of major concern for the election commission. In 2017, the central government made changes to the financial bill under which was sharply criticised and objected by the election commission. As per the amendments made to the financial bill, the political parties would no longer be required to declare electoral bonds to the election commission. This could make it easier for the parties to also receive black money in the form of donations. This has been a major source of concern for the election commission.

    The ECI has demanded that the amendment made by the government to the financial bill be reversed. The amendment states that “It is proposed to provide that the contributions received by way of electoral bond shall be excluded from the scope of sub-section (3) of section 29C of the said Act.”  

    24 December 2018

  • EC asks for parties to limit the expenditure on candidates during elections

    The election commission has asked the political parties to put a cap on the spending on its candidates during the elections. As per the law laid down by the election commission, the cap of expenditure on candidates by political parties has been set at 50% of the maximum expenditure ceiling. The law of expenditure is included in the Representation of the People Act and Rule 90 of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. If the recommendations by the EC are accepted by the government, no political party will be able to spend more than 25 to 35 lakh rupees on the candidate during the Lok Sabha elections and Rs.10 to 14 Lakh at the time of legislative assembly elections.

    The EC has decided to crack down on the spending by political parties during the elections as it wants to create a level playing field for all political parties during elections. It also wants to curb the money power of the traditional political parties in the country. Despite the EC’s initiatives, there is still no cap on the amount of money that political parties spend on candidates during elections. The average expenditure by political parties during Lok Sabha elections is Rs.50 to 70 Lakh and for legislative assembly elections it is Rs. 20 to 28 Lakh.  

    20 December 2018

  • EC asks Delhi government to stop collecting information about voters

    The Election Commission has asked the Delhi government to stop collecting information about the families of school students. In a letter that was addressed to the chief secretary Vijay Dev, the EC has clearly stated that collecting data about the families of the school students is illegal. It has been reported earlier that the vice chief minister of the Delhi government, Manish Sisodia had objected to the letter sent by the election commission and had even asked the chief secretary not to follow the directive of not collecting personal data of families of school students.

    Sisodia argued that the ECs order of banning Dev from collecting data at a time when elections were not going to be conducted was absurd and interfering with the work of the state government. However, the EC has shot back saying that any matter related to electoral data falls under the jurisdiction of the EC and any directive provided by the same organisation has to be followed. The state government has said that the collection  of data of families of school students will help in creating a databank of students of Delhi to verify the residential address, and its analysis will help the government in both short- and long-term planning.

    17 December 2018

  • EC asked to publicize NOTA button

    A divisional bench comprising of Justice SC Sharma and Justice Virendra Singh has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to publicize the ‘None of the above’ (NOTA) button. The judgment came after a Ujjain-based advocate filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the matter. The bench in its verdict stated that going forward the ECI must give wide publicity to the all the guidelines that it has framed regarding elections in the country.

    It needs to be mentioned here that the petitioner in his PIL had sought that boards are set up outside each polling booth to make voters aware of the NOTA button. Yashwant Agnihotri, who had filed the PIL had also sought NGOs and other authorities are allowed to publicize NOTA and let voters know that they can press the NOTA button if they do not want to give their vote to a particular individual or party.

    It is noteworthy to mention that earlier a PIL was rejected by the court which sought permission of Ujjain collector to publicize NOTA in the city.

    4 December 2018

  • EC asked to publicize NOTA button

    A divisional bench comprising of Justice SC Sharma and Justice Virendra Singh has directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to publicize the ‘None of the above’ (NOTA) button. The judgment came after a Ujjain-based advocate filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the matter. The bench in its verdict stated that going forward the ECI must give wide publicity to the all the guidelines that it has framed regarding elections in the country.

    It needs to be mentioned here that the petitioner in his PIL had sought that boards are set up outside each polling booth to make voters aware of the NOTA button. Yashwant Agnihotri, who had filed the PIL had also sought NGOs and other authorities are allowed to publicize NOTA and let voters know that they can press the NOTA button if they do not want to give their vote to a particular individual or party.

    It is noteworthy to mention that earlier a PIL was rejected by the court which sought permission of Ujjain collector to publicize NOTA in the city.

    4 December 2018

Voter ID Card by State

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