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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. “Deficiencies in the present system of appointment of Election Commissioners needs to be removed and adequate safeguards must be put into place to ensure that ethical and capable people head the concerned positions”. Comment. (250 Words)

    02 Mar, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance


    • Introduce with briefly explaining Election Commission of India and Election commissioners.
    • Discuss the issues associated with the Election commission.
    • Suggest a way forward.


    The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a constitutional body envisaged to uphold the values of equality, equity, impartiality, independence enshrined in the Indian Constitution and the rule of law in superintendence, direction, and control over the electoral governance.

    • Constitutional Provisions: Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and provides for the establishment of the ECI.
      • Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc of the commission and the members.
    • Statutory Provisions: Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the enactment of the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
      • The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.


    Issues Associated

    • Failure of Parliament in Enacting Laws: It is the Parliament responsible for making laws with respect to the appointment of the ECs,
      • However, apart from enacting a law in 1989 enlarging the number of ECs from one to three, Parliament has so far not enacted any changes to the appointment process.
    • Over-dependence on the Executive for Appointment: The Election Commission renders a quasi-judicial function between the ruling and other parties. In such a case, the executive cannot be a sole participant in the appointment of ECs.
      • The current practice of appointment of ECs by the Centre violates Article 14, Article 324(2), and Democracy as a basic feature of the Constitution.
    • Over the years influence of money and criminal elements in politics has increased along with violence and electoral malpractices resulting in criminalization of politics. The ECI has been unable to arrest this deterioration.
    • There has been rampant abuse of power by the state government who at times make large-scale transfers on the eve of elections and posts pliable officials in key positions, using official vehicles and buildings for electioneering, flouting the ECI’s model code of conduct.
    • The ECI is not adequately equipped to regulate political parties. The ECI has no power in enforcing inner-party democracy and regulation of party finances.

    Way Forward

    • Multi-Institutional Committee: Given that ECI is the institutional keystone holding up the edifice of Indian democracy, establishing a multi-institutional, bipartisan committee for fair and transparent selection of ECs can enhance the perceived and actual independence of ECI.
      • The quasi-judicial nature of ECI’s functions makes it especially important that the appointments process conform to the strictest democratic principles.
      • Such a procedure is already with regard to appointment of the authorities such as the Chief Information Commissioner, Lokpal, Vigilance Commissioner, and the Director of the Central Bureau of Intelligence.
    • Recommendations of Second ARC Report: The Second ARC report recommended that an ECI collegium headed by the PM should make recommendations for the President for appointment of the ECI members.
      • The Anoop Baranwal v. The Union of India (2015) case also raised the demand for a Collegium system for the ECI.
      • A Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud had also noted that the ECs supervise and hold elections across the country and their selection has to be made in the most transparent manner.
    • Role of Parliament: Parliament would do well to pre-empt judicial strictures by going ahead and formulating a law that establishes a multi-institutional, bipartisan Collegium to select ECs.
      • There is a need for debate and discussions in the Parliament on the issue of independence of ECI and consequently passing of required legislation.
      • After all, separation of powers is the gold standard for governments across the world.

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