What are election laws & how are elections held in India?

23 Feb 2022  Read 2176 Views

India, after securing its independence, was declared a sovereign, secular, socialist & democratic republic, it was only after 1947 when India rode down the road to becoming the world’s largest democracy with the motto “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The people of our country are unrestricted to form their political parties. In order to form a government, they must choose their representatives from the available political parties. Since the 17th century, elections have been the most obvious procedure through which modern representative democracy has functioned. This procedure is also used in various other private and business official doms. In this article, we will discuss about the election laws in India.

As we know that the members in the Parliament and State Legislatures are elected by the voting procedure. So, even in a democracy, laws are needed to ensure that the best representatives are elected for healthy governance of our country i.e.; the election procedure must be fair and free. 

Structure of Government in India

In India, the government is based on the British Westminster system of Parliament which is deliberated hereunder:

  • An elected President

  • An elected vice-President

  • Elected Parliament

  • Elected State Legislatures

For small towns and rural areas:

  • Elected municipalities

  • Panchayats

  • Other local bodies.

Need of Elections in India

  1. Need to conduct free and fair elections to the different posts of the country, it must be free of political interference.

  2. Laws are required to govern the elections in India and there has to be an authority which must be an in charge of conducting the elections which will look after the implementation of these laws.

  3. A redressal mechanism by which any doubts and disputes arising out of the elections can be resolved.

Now, let’s have a look at the constitutional provisions:

Articles 324 to 329 of Indian Constitution deals with the elections in India. Functionaries in connection with the conduct and supervision of free, fair and peaceful elections to the House of the People and the legislative assemblies of the States are required to adopt a realistic, practical and flexible approach to ensure that India is governed by its true democratic perspective. Article 324 looks after the elections to the Parliament, state legislatures and to the offices of the President and the Vice President. We are talking about the Election Commission of India which operates under this article enacted under Representation of the People Act which is an autonomous constitutional body responsible for administering election processes in India at national, state and district level. The body looks after the elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state Legislative Assemblies, state legislative Councils, and the offices of the President and Vice President.

Election Commission of India

  • The Commission was first established in 1950 and originally only had 1 Chief Election Commissioner. 

  • Two additional Commissioners were appointed to this Commission for the first time in 1989 during the General Election, but with a very short tenure. (Presently, 1 Chief Election Commissioner and 2 Election Commissioners).

  • The Commission being a constitutional authority is amongst the few institutions that functions with both autonomy and freedom, along with the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

  • This article under the Indian Constitution also prescribes the members who shall constitute the Election Commission. Under the article, it shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners as fixed by the President from time to time. 

  • The appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall be made in accordance to the provisions of law made in this behalf by the Parliament and they shall be appointed by the President. 

  • The Election Commission has the right to exercise its power in the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct. The Model Code of Conduct was created by the political parties to ensure fair elections for all the parties involved and provides for rules against the misuse of official machinery.

Functions and Duties of the Election Commission

  • Direct and control the entire process of conducting elections.

  • Issues Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates.

  • Prepares electoral rolls.

  • Registers the Political parties.

  • Allots symbols to parties and candidates.

  • Take details of candidate’s assets for their nomination process.

Then, there is State Election Commission which conducts elections for Panchayats and Municipalities under Articles 243K and 243ZA of the Constitution created by 73rd and 74th amendments.

Legislations relating to the Election Laws

  • Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952

The Act was enacted for the election to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.

  • Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules 1974

This is basically a supplementary set of rules to the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952.

  • Representation of the People Act 1950

This Act governs the conduct of elections to State Legislatures and to Parliament which is concerned with the preparation of electoral rolls and their revisions.

  • The Registration of Electors Rules 1960

Under Section 28 of the Act, these rules were made by the Centre along with the Election Commission, and supplements the provisions of this act with detailed rules. All rules relating to the preparation of electoral rolls etc.  

  • Representation of the People Act 1951

Importantly, this Act governs the actual conduct of elections to State Legislatures and to Parliament. All post-election matters that comprise of doubts and disputes with regards to the elections or are in connection with the elections, will be dealt according to the provisions of this Act. 

  • Conduct of Elections Rules 1961

These rules were framed under Section 169 of the Act by the Centre and the Election Commission. It deals with detailed rules for every stage of the conduct of elections. It deliberates the issue of the writ notification for conducting elections, filing of nominations, and the scrutiny of the nominations. 

  • Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968

This order concerns the reservation matters of election symbols for political parties at National and State levels. Election symbols serve as public recognition of the party and this even assists in the resolution of disputes between splinter groups.

Election Procedure in India

  • Filing of nomination- The ECI publishes the notification.

  • Analysis of Nomination- If dissatisfied then nomination is rejected.

  • Campaigning for Elections- This is done to promote their respective parties

  • Voting and Polling Day- Voters come and vote for the candidate.

  • Result Declaration- Candidate with the highest votes wins the election

  • Formation of Party- The party then proves majority and choose their leader.

Conclusion

Under Article 326, the adult citizens had the right to vote who were above 21 years old. But post the 61st amendment Act of 1988, the voting age was lowered from 21 years to 18 years. It is the Universal Adult Suffrage that gives the adult citizens the right to vote. 14 nationally recognised parties contested the 1952 Lok Sabha elections when around 173 million people voted. So, imagine at present times, the number of people eligible to vote, that is more than 800 million. Hence, to sum up, India conducts three main types of election, The General Election (Lok Sabha), Assembly Elections (State Elections) and by-Elections (also known as by-polls) that are used to fill elected offices which have become vacant between General Elections.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 109 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Curator at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) & she is a patent analyst. She has pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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