INDEPENDENCE OF ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA – by Shubhangi Singh @lexcliq

Election Commission of India was established on 25 January 1950 in accordance with the Article 324 of Indian Constitution. It is a Constitutional body that is permanent in nature. It is responsible for conducting free and fair elections to preserve the Democratic structure of the nation. It conducts free and fair elections for Central and State Government .i.e to the Parliament, the office of President and Vice President, State Legislative Assemblies. It derives its power of superintendence from Constitution only. 

The first election in free India was conducted under the chairmanship Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner of India. The approximate cost of the first election to the world’s largest democracy was Rs 10 Crore. But, Rs 3,870 crore was spent by Centre to hold the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Initially the age for voting was 21years, which was later changed to 18 years. 

CHIEF ELECTION COMMISSIONER (CEC) – 

  • Since its formulation, ECI was a one member body which was headed by CEC. But, in 1989, it became a multi-member body with the appointment of two Election Commissioners by the President of India. The members were increased to cope up with the increased burden of work and responsibilities. In 1990, it was again made a single member body. In 1993, it was again converted to multi-member body with the appointment of two Election Commissioners. Since then, Election Commission of India has three Commissioners .I.e One Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • The Powers and emoluments including salaries of the three Commissioners is same with that of Supreme Court Judge.
  • In case of difference of opinion between the three Commissioners, the decision is made by the Commission by the majority.
  • The office is held by them for a term of 6 years or until they attain 65 years, whichever happens first. They can also be removed or can resign at any time before the expiry of their term.

INDEPENDENCE OF ELECTION COMMISSION –

Our constitution maker were far-sighted as they knew that in order to preserve the democratic structure of the country it is important to hold free and fair elections by an independent body. But, being independent is not enough to preserve this essential structure. It was essential to give the commission the required powers so that future governments and politicians don’t use the commission to serve their interest and harm the interest of the whole nation. The constitution makers have tried to limit the influence and interference of Government in the functioning of the Commission. Some of the powers that makes the commission an independent body is – 

  • The CEC of India does not hold the office until the pleasure of the President. CEC can only be removed from his/her position by following the impeachment process which is same as that of the Supreme Court Judge .ie. a resolution should be passed from both houses of Parliament with special majority. 
  • CEC can only be removed by the President after the due process of Impeachment is followed. CEC is also appointed by the President.
  • CEC can only be removed be removed on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. 
  • Any other election commissioner or regional commissioner can’t be removed from the office except on the recommendation of CEC

CONCLUSION – 

The Indian Constitution has provided several safeguards to prevent corruption in this institution as it can prove to be disastrous for the Democratic structure of the nation. But,  there are certain flaws in the Provision of the Constitution which increases the risk of malpractices. Like Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications for the Commissioners. This could lead to a situation in which ECI could be headed by incapable commissioners who lack the knowledge and experience to run such important institutions. Also, the Constitution does not debar the retired Commissioners from further appointments. This creates a risk of hidden interference of Government and Ministers in the working of the Institution. For eg. A minister promises the Commissioner to have a seat in Rajya Sabha if the Commissioner helps him/her in elections.

Though, there are certain flaws in the Constitution regarding Election Commission, such flaws can be removed by the Union Government by amending the provisions of the Article 324, thereby removing the scope of Corruption in the institution.

 

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