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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Election Commission


What are the important provisions relating to the Election Commission in the Indian Constitution? How can the Election Commissioners be removed?
The Indian Constitution provides that there shall be an office of the Election Commission of India which shall be responsible for conducting free and fair elections to the offices of the President, Vice President, the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies under Articles 54 and 66.
 
The Election Commission consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and such other Commissioners as the President of India may from time to time decide. In the initial years, there used to be only a Chief Election Commissioner. But in October 1989, the Election Commission of India was made a multi-member. But in 1990, it was again made a single-member. Commission. The position was changed once again in 1993 and since then the Commission continues to be a multi-Member Commission.
 
The Election Commission has the powers of superintendence, direction, control and conduct of all elections mentioned above. It may be noted that the elections to the local bodies are conducted by the State Election Commissioners appointed under Article 243K by the States.
 
The Constitution of India provides for a set procedure for removal of the Election Commissioners, making this body absolutely independent of the legislative and executive control. It is provided that an Election Commissioner cannot be removed from his office except in the manner and on the grounds on which a Judge of the Supreme Court can be removed. In other words, an Election Commissioner can be removed from the office only on proven grounds of incapacity or misbehaviour.
 
Under such circumstances the procedure starts only after a motion addressed to the President signed by at least 100 Members of Lok Sabha or 50 Members of Rajya Sabha is delivered to the Speaker or the Chairman of the concerned House. It is also clear that the Chief Election Commissioner has no role to play in the removal or appointment of any Election Commissioner. With these provisions, the Constitution provides that the Election Commissioners are to be kept out of the influence of the legislature or the executive so that they work in a non-partisan and independent manner.

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