The Election Commission is the organisation responsible for fostering the democratic process in India. It was formed in 1950 to conduct elections in the country. The headquarters of the Election Commission are situated in the capital city of New Delhi. The Election Commission of India consists of 3 major members who are the Chief Election Commissioner and two other election commissioners who are chosen by the president. All the election commissioners serve a six year term in office.
The Election Commission has its subsidiaries present in each state in India which is known as the state election commission. The Election Commission’s job is to conduct the largest political activity that takes place anywhere in the world. The Indian electorate exceeds 668 million people with 800,000 polling stations across the country. Conducting the general elections with keeping these numbers in mind is not an easy task at all.
Functions of the election commission
The Election Commission of India has certain major functions to perform which are:
- Ensuring that free and fair elections are conducted: The major function of EC is to conduct free and fair elections whether it is the general elections or the legislative assembly elections. The list of elections that are conducted by the election commission include:
- Lok sabha and Rajya Sabha elections
- State legislative assembly elections
- President and Vice-president elections
- Parliament and state legislature by-elections
- Preparation of electoral rolls: It is the responsibility of the election commission to ensure that the electoral roll for the elections are prepared correctly. No voter who has successfully registered to vote in an election should be disallowed to do so.
- Requisition of staff when required: It is the duty of the Election Commission to ensure the smooth conduction of elections and if it means requisition of staff, so be it. The EC can request the government for requisition of staff from such as the army for proper conduction of elections and to prevent malpractices such as vote rigging, false voting, booth jams etc.
- Appointing election observers: It is also the responsibility of the election commission to appoint election observers so that free and fair elections are conducted.
- Planning the election schedule: It is the responsibility of the election commission to plan the election schedule and it is announced via a press conference by the chief election commissioner. After the model code of conduct is applied by the election commission in the area where the elections are being held, the prospective candidates can file for nominations.
- The Quasi-judicial role: The election commission performs some quasi-judicial functions such as ensuring that the model code of conduct is followed in the area/areas where the elections are being held. The EC also supplies its own inputs on cases during the elections where there is some kind of malpractice involved.
- Conducting by-elections: The election commission is also responsible for conducting by-election in any constituency whenever the need arises.
- Cancellation of election: There are certain situations in which the election commission might have to cancel polls like when the voting might be rigged or any other involvement of malpractice. If this happens, then the election commission has to order for a fresh election.
- Giving recognition to new political parties and allotting symbols: Any new political party formed in India has to be first recognised and validated by the election commission. After it has been recognised and validated, it is allotted a symbol which is assigned to it by the election commission.
- Disqualification of candidate: The election commission can also disqualify any candidate if the candidate has not filed his or her elections returns to the EC on time. The EC also provides advice to the president to potentially disqualify any MLA or MP if they are found guilty of malpractice.
- Code of conduct: It is the responsibility of the election commission to ensure the code of conduct is followed during the period of elections and no malpractice takes place.
- Observation of political parties: The election commission has to monitor the behaviour and actions of political parties during elections.
- Providing information to the media: The election commission is required to provide regular updates to the media about the preparation of elections, polling and its conduction.