The ECI is not concerned with the elections at the Panchayats and Municipalities in the states. The superintendence, direction and control of these elections is vested in the State Election Commission under Article 243K and Article 243 ZA respectively.
Composition of ECI
Under Article 324 (2) the composition of ECI “shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix”.
Prior to 1989, the EC was a single member commission. It changed to three members from Oct 16, 1989 to Jan 1, 1990, with a Chief Election Commissioner and two election commissioners.
This was doneto cope with the increased work of the Election Commission on account of the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years by the 61st Amendment.
After a brief interregnum from 1990 when the post of two election commissioners was removed and the Election Commission reverted to its earlier position of one, the EC returned to being a three-member commission in October 1993.
The Election Commission has since functioned as a multi-member body, consisting of one Chief Election Commissioner and two election commissioners.
Appointment of members
According to Article 324 (2) of the Constitution the number of Election Commissioners will be fixed from time to time by the President.
The appointment Chief Election Commission and election commissioners shall be made by the President.
They can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
Rule 4 says that they can resign at any time, by writing under their hand addressed to the President.
By convention members of the EC are not reappointed.
Removal of members
Article 324 (5) Proviso states that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from their office except in the same manner and grounds as a Supreme Court Judge.
In other words, they can be removed by the President on the basis of a resolution passed by both the Houses of Parliament with a special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
Thus, they do not hold office till the pleasure of the President, even though their appointment is made by the President.
An election commissioner can be removed by the President on the recommendation of the CEC, though the recommendation is not binding.
Qualification of members
Though the Constitution does not prescribe qualifications of the members, by convention they are retired civil servants, of the rank of cabinet secretary or secretary to the Government of India.
Condition of Service
Chief Election Commissioner and the election commissioners receive a salary that is equal to the salary of a judge of the Supreme Court under Rule 3 of the 1992 Rules.
Under Rule 8 of the 1992 Rules, conditions applicable to a judge of the Supreme Court under Chapter IV of the Supreme Court Judges (Conditions of Service) Act, 1958 and the rules made thereunder, will apply to the Chief Election Commissioner and the election commissioners.
The Constitution of India does not specify the term of members of ECI nor does it state if they can hold the Office of Profit.
Powers and Functions of ECI
To determine the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies throughout the country on the basis of the Delimitation Commission Act of Parliament.
To prepare and periodically revise electoral rolls and to register all eligible voters.
To notify the dates and schedules of elections and to scrutinise nomination papers.
To grant recognition to political parties and allot election symbols to them.
To act as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and the allotment of election symbols to them.
To appoint officers for inquiring into disputes relating to electoral arrangements.
To determine the code of conduct to be observed by the parties and the candidates at the time of elections.
To prepare a roster for publicity of the policies of the political parties on radio and TV in times of elections.
To advise the President/Governor on matters relating to the disqualifications of members of Parliament/legislature.
To supervise the machinery of elections throughout the country to ensure free and fair elections and cancel polls in the event of rigging, booth capturing, violence and other irregularities.
To advise the President on whether elections can be held in a state under President’s rule in order to extend the period of emergency after one year.
To register political parties for the purpose of elections and grant them the status of national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance.
[Yamina Rizvi is a 5th year student at Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia. She has a keen interest in Constitutional and Women related laws. She has few publications in her name in the field of Rights of Indigenous People, Data Protection and Surrogacy. Apart from this she has attended various conferences and workshops on Women Rights. She is active member of Delhi State Legal Service Authority.
Nabeeha Naqvi is a 5th year student at Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia. She has high interest in Criminal Law and Constitutional Law. She has few publications in her name in the field of Jurisprudence, Constitution, Women’s right and Data Protection. She is an active member of Delhi State Legal Service Authority.]
[This is a three part series. Read Part I here. In Part III we will discuss the procedure that fixes the territorial limits of constituencies.]