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Election Commission of India (ECI)


Election Commission of India (ECI)

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  • Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned just days before the anticipated announcement of the schedule for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Election Commission of India (ECI)

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering electoral processes in India.


  • The Election Commission was established on January 25, 1950.
  • Established under Part XV, Article 324 – 329 of the Indian Constitution, the ECI is mandated to ensure free and fair elections, uphold democratic values, and promote voter participation.
  • Article 324 provides for an Independent Election Commission.


  • Originally a single-member body, the ECI became a multi-member body after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989.
  • The Commission consists of a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and such number of Election Commissioners as the President may from time-to-time fix.
  • The President appoints the CEC and the Election Commissioners.
  • While the CEC heads the Commission, the other Election Commissioners assist him.
  • Their tenure and conditions of service are determined by the President, with their status and perks akin to Supreme Court judges.


  • The ECI is an independent body, free from governmental influence, and has been granted extensive powers to ensure free and fair elections.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner is removable only through a process similar to that of a Supreme Court judge.

Appointment & Tenure Of Commissioners

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office in like manner and on like grounds as a judge of the Supreme Court.


  • The main functions of the Election Commission include:
    • Conducting elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, and offices of the President and Vice President of India.
    • Delimitation of constituencies.
    • Registration of political parties.
    • Monitoring the election campaign, ensuring a level playing field, and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct.
    • Supervising the work of electoral officers.
    • Conducting voter education programs.
    • Preparation and revision of electoral rolls,
    • Notification of election schedules,
    • Scrutiny of nomination papers,
    • Resolves disputes,
    • Supervises election machinery,

It advises on the disqualification of members and can cancel polls in case of irregularities.

Model Code of Conduct:

  • The ECI enforces the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to ensure that political parties and candidates adhere to ethical standards during elections.

Voter Registration:

  • The ECI is responsible for the registration of eligible voters and issuing voter identity cards.

Electoral Reforms:

  • The Commission works towards improving the electoral process through various reforms, such as the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), introduction of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, and initiatives to increase voter participation.


  • The ECI has the power to supervise elections, issue guidelines to political parties and candidates, and take necessary actions to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections.

State Election Commissions:

  • In addition to the Election Commission of India, each state has a State Election Commission responsible for conducting elections to local bodies such as municipalities, panchayats, and municipal corporations.

The Election Commission of India plays a crucial role in upholding the democratic principles of the country by ensuring that elections are conducted freely, fairly, and impartially.

Electoral Reforms since Independence

  • In 1988, the criteria for proposers in nomination papers for Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Council elections were adjusted to 10 percent of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is lower.
  • The 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988 lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years for both Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
  • In 1989, provisions were made to adjourn or countermand elections in case of booth capturing.
  • Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were first used in the general election in Kerala in May 1982. By 2004, EVMs were used in all 543 Parliamentary Constituencies in India.
  • Candidates contesting elections were classified into three categories to list their names.
  • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act disqualifies a person convicted for an offense from contesting elections to the Parliament and State Legislature for 6 years.
  • Nomination of a candidate in a Parliamentary or assembly constituency required subscription by 10 registered electors of the constituency as proposers if the candidate was not sponsored by a recognized political party.
  • Candidates were restricted to contesting from no more than two Parliamentary/assembly constituencies and Rajya Sabha/State legislative council seats.
  • In 1997, the number of electors as proposers and seconders for contesting elections to the office of the President was increased from 10 to 50 and the office of the Vice President from 5 to 20.
  • In 2003, the Election Commission ordered every candidate to disclose information on convictions, accusations, assets, and liabilities.
  • The Government was required to provide, free of cost, copies of electoral rolls and other prescribed material to candidates of recognized political parties for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2003.
  • Political parties had to report any contribution exceeding ₹20,000 to the Election Commission for any claim to income tax relief in 2003.
  • Under a 2003 provision, the Election Commission should allocate equitable sharing of time to recognized political parties, based on past performance, on the cable television network and other electronic media.

Issues in Indian Electoral Politics

  • Criminalization of Politics: Many politicians in India have criminal backgrounds, which can undermine the democratic process and lead to criminal elements influencing policymaking.
  • Money Power: Elections in India often involve large amounts of money, leading to corruption and unequal access to political power. This can skew the electoral process in favour of wealthy candidates and parties.
  • Dynastic Politics: Many political parties in India are dominated by families, leading to concerns about nepotism and the concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals.
  • Election Commission Autonomy: There are concerns about the autonomy of the Election Commission of India, with some critics alleging interference by the government in its functioning.
  • Electoral Malpractices: Issues such as booth capturing, voter intimidation and electoral fraud continue to be reported in Indian elections, raising questions about the fairness of the electoral process.
  • Lack of Voter Awareness: Despite efforts to increase voter awareness, many voters in India are still uninformed about the political process and the candidates, leading to low voter turnout and potentially uninformed voting choices.
  • Political Polarization: Indian politics is often characterized by strong ideological divisions and polarization, which can lead to a lack of consensus on important issues and hinder effective governance.
  • Election Expenditure: The cost of elections in India is high, leading to concerns about the influence of money in politics and the ability of candidates without significant financial resources to contest elections.
  • Election Violence: Election-related violence, including clashes between political parties, intimidation of voters, and attacks on candidates, is a significant issue in Indian electoral politics. This can create a climate of fear and hinder the democratic process.
  • Caste and Religious Politics: Identity-based politics, particularly along caste and religious lines, is prevalent in India. While these factors play a significant role in shaping political outcomes, they can also lead to divisions and tensions within society.
  • Misuse of Government Machinery: There are concerns about the misuse of government machinery and resources by incumbent parties during elections, giving them an unfair advantage over their opponents.
  • Electoral Bonds: The introduction of electoral bonds has raised concerns about transparency in political funding, as the identity of donors is not disclosed. Critics argue that this could lead to increased influence of corporate interests in politics.
  • Election Commission's Role: While the Election Commission of India is tasked with ensuring free and fair elections, there have been criticisms of its effectiveness in curbing electoral malpractices and enforcing electoral rules.
  • Political Polarization: Indian politics is often characterized by deep-rooted ideological divisions, which can lead to a lack of constructive dialogue and compromise. This polarization can hinder the functioning of democratic institutions.
  • Representation of Marginalized Groups: Despite efforts to promote inclusivity, there are concerns about the underrepresentation of marginalized groups, such as women, Dalits, and tribal communities, in Indian politics.
  • Political Accountability: There are challenges in ensuring political accountability, with some elected representatives facing allegations of corruption and misconduct. Strengthening mechanisms for accountability is crucial for maintaining public trust in the political system. 

Needed Reforms

  • State Funding of Elections: Establish a system where the state covers election costs for political parties to reduce reliance on private donations and address corruption.
  • Central Legislation: Enact a law to prevent criminalization of politics and purify the political system, as per the Supreme Court's directive in the Public Interest Foundation & Ors. vs. Union of India 2018 case.
  • Introduction of Fiscal Responsibility Legislation: Implement a law akin to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003, to manage unsustainable populist measures by political parties.
  • Reforming the Electoral System: Replace the 'First Past the Post System' with a system that requires a minimum percentage of total votes polled for a candidate to win, reducing the chances of criminals getting elected.
  • Simultaneous Polls: Enforce simultaneous elections to decrease expenses for the Election Commission and political parties.
  • Inclusion under RTI: Bring political parties under the scope of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to enhance transparency.
  • Audit of Party Accounts: Conduct regular audits of political party accounts to ensure accountability.
  • Self-Regulation of Money Use: Ensure that political parties self-regulate their use of financial resources and prevent the infiltration of illicit funds into the election process.
  • Equal Media Space: Provide all parties with equal media coverage or airtime to ensure fair competition.
  • Limit on Party Expenditure: Establish a limit on party expenditure and make it public before elections to ensure transparency. Awareness Campaigns: Conduct campaigns to educate voters about candidates and their backgrounds prior to elections.
  • Voter Education: Educate voters about the importance of their vote and the necessity of making informed decisions, rejecting candidates who offer inducements.


Q. How do electoral reforms contribute to enhancing democratic processes in India? Explain the key reforms recommended by the Election Commission and other bodies to improve transparency and accountability in elections. Discuss how these reforms can mitigate corruption and criminalization in politics.