The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a constitutional body tasked with supervising, directing, and controlling electoral governance while upholding the values of equality, equity, impartiality, and independence entrenched in the Indian Constitution and the rule of law.

Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections and establishes the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Articles 324 to 329 of the constitution deal with the commission’s and members’ powers, functions, tenure, eligibility, and so on.

Statutory Provisions: Originally, the commission had just one election commissioner, but it was expanded to a multi-member body after the passage of the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989.

One Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners make up the commission.

Issues Associated with Parliament’s Failure to Enact Laws: Apart from a bill extending the number of ECs from one to three in 1989, Parliament has not made any modifications to the appointment procedure.

Over-reliance on the Executive for Appointment: The Election Commission serves as a sort of middleman between the ruling party and the opposition. The executive cannot be the sole decision-maker in the appointment of ECs in this situation.

The current practise of the Centre appointing ECs is in violation of Article 14, Article 324(2), and the Constitution’s core feature of democracy.

Money and criminal groups’ influence in politics has grown throughout time, coupled with violence and election malpractices, leading in the criminalization of politics. The ECI has been unable to halt the deterioration of the situation.

The state government has been accused of abusing its power by making large-scale transfers on the eve of elections and installing pliable officials in crucial positions, as well as using official cars and buildings for electioneering, in violation of the ECI’s model code of conduct.

The ECI lacks the necessary resources to regulate political parties. The ECI has no authority to enforce internal party democracy or party finance rules.

Way Forward Multi-Institutional Committee: 

  • Because ECI is the institutional cornerstone of Indian democracy, forming a multi- institutional, bipartisan committee to select ECs in a fair and transparent manner can improve ECI’s perceived and actual independence.
  • The quasi-judicial nature of ECI’s activities necessitates adherence to the most stringent democratic criteria in the selection process.
  • The appointment of authorities such as the Chief Information Commissioner, Lokpal, Vigilance Commissioner, and Director of the Central Bureau of Intelligence follows a similar

Second ARC Report Recommendations:

  • According to the Second ARC report, an ECI collegium led by the Prime Minister shall offer recommendations to the President for the appointment of ECI
  • In the case of Anoop Baranwal Union of India (2015), the demand for a Collegium structure for the ECI was also expressed.
  • A bench led by Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud had also stated that the ECs oversee and conduct elections across the country, and that their selection must be done in the most open manner possible.

Parliament’s role:

  • Parliament would do well to foreclose judicial restrictions by drafting legislation that creates a multi-institutional, nonpartisan Collegium to choose
  • The problem of ECI’s independence requires debate and discussion in Parliament, as well as the passage of necessary
  • Separation of powers is, after all, the gold standard for governments all over the
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 5, 2023