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Question – Despite executing one of the major functions of democracy, the Election Commission lacks significant powers. Do you agree Explain with appropriate illustrations. – 27 April
The Election Commission of India is a permanent, independent and constitutional body established to ensure free and fair elections in India. Article-324 of the Constitution vests the Election Commission with the power to superintend, direct and control the elections of Parliament, State legislatures, the President and Vice-President of India.
Functions of Election Commission:
The Election Commission of India is one of the four pillars of democracy in India, and as such it is authorized for a wide range of functions.
- It registers political parties for the purpose of election and confers them the status of national or state parties on the basis of their performance.
- It recognizes political parties and allocates election symbols to them.
- To act as a court for settlement of disputes related to recognition of political parties and allotment of election symbols to them.
- Appointment of officers for investigation in disputes related to electoral system.
- To determine the code of conduct to be followed by the parties and candidates at the time of election.
- Cancellation of election in the event of rigging, booth capturing, violence, and other irregularities
Latest Events of Election Commission:
Even though the Constitution and Act of the Parliament give the broad powers to Election Commission during day-to-day functioning, it presents several challenges in relation to the use of these powers and functions. For this reason, the Supreme Court has called the Election Commission as toothless.
- During 2019, it has come under suspicion by members of the ruling party for not taking action on the incidents related to violation of model code of conduct.
- Issues related to VVPAT, transmission of unlicensed NAMO TV, concerns about EVMs, all have raised many questions regarding the credibility and non-partisan nature of the institution.
- The ECI is also being criticized for late and inadequate actions to prevent the spread of payment-based and fake news.
- During the 2019 general election, a group of prominent retired bureaucrats wrote a letter to the President highlighting issues such as transfer of top officials, remarks by the Governor of Rajasthan, induction of army for votes, and comments on the Election Commission While stating that “ECI suffers from willful conduct and credibility crisis”.
Suspending election campaign for 72 hours on prominent politicians for making hate speech during 2019 LokSabha elections, cancellation of election due to use of money force during the voting in Vellore, involving more voters due to social media and other awareness campaigns and strengthening the credibility of EVMs through VVPAT are among the major achievements of ECI-
- To follow the recommendations of the 225th Law Commission and make all appointments through a collegium system consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
- Equal constitutional protection for all three Election Commissioners.
- Weighting of ECI expenses to the Consolidated Fund of India
The Election Commission should get the cancellation of registration of political parties under the Representation of People Act.