The article covers the contemplation of the Election Law in India along with the Constitutional Provisions for the same has been discussed. Further suggestions to improve the slipping democracy is discussed and the Requirements of a free and fair election have been stated.
According to Democracy Index India is a ‘Flawed Democracy’ and was ranked at 51st position out of 165 countries. The rank of Indian democracy slipped 10 ranks by the previous year, the reason behind this has been due to the fundamental weakness which the country has been facing due to various reasons.
The ballot is stronger than the bullet.Abraham Lincoln
Requirements of free and fair Elections
The Constitution of India has established some mandatory requirements that are a must to conduct a free and fair election. These are mentioned as follows:
- A free and independent authority
- Rules and regulations
- Redressal mechanism.
Election Commission of India
More than a few methods have been adopted by the lawmakers in order to ensure free and fair elections and one of them is appointing an Election commission the main function of this commission is to conduct free and fair elections. The Constitution provides provisions that appoint the election Commission and vests various functions in it[i].
Functions of the Election Commission
The Election Commission is vested with various functions by the Indian constitution. The wide ranges of functions are:
- Updating and regulating the voters’ list.
- Regulating the election schedule and timings.
- Ensuring free and fair poll takes place
- Model of conduct
- Re-polling or Re-counting.
- Giving recognition to political parties and their respective symbols.
Relevant Elections Laws in India
There are various laws that regulate the conduct of elections in India. In India, the State and center elections are conducted differently but these elections are governed by the same set of laws. These Laws are as follows:
The Representation of the People Act, 1950
In this Act, provisions for the allocation of seats in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, delimitation of constituencies, qualifications of voters, manner of filling the seats of Rajya Sabha by Union Territory representatives are dealt with.
- The Commission appoints or nominates a Chief Electoral Officer for every state with the consultation of the State Government.
- The Central government has the authority to make rules under this Act but with the consultation of the Election Commission.
- This Act limits the power of the Civil Courts to question the legality of actions taken by the Electoral Registration Officer in regards to the revision taken under the electoral roll.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951
The Act deals with the provisions regarding the conduct of elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures, qualifications, disqualifications, various offences, various doubts, and disputes. Following are some of the rules laid down under this Act:
- A candidate who is standing in the elections has to get them registered with the Election Commission of India. The registration of the candidate or the party is a discretionary power of the Commission.
- Any changes of the candidate or the political party in regards to the name and address should be communicated to the Election Commission.
- A person is not eligible to stand as a candidate in either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha if he is not eligible to vote.
The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960
The Act has provisions regarding the preparation of Electoral Rolls, their periodic updating and revision. The process for registration of eligible voters as well as the issuing of voter ID cards with the photograph of the voter is provided in the Act.
Conduct of Election Rules, 1961
This Act deals with the steps involved in conducting elections in detail. The Act governs the following:
- Issuing of writ notification for conducting elections
- Filing of nominations
- Scrutiny of nominations
- Withdrawal of candidates
- Counting of votes
- Regulation of the poll booths
Election Symbols Order, 1968
This Order empowers the Election Commission to give political parties recognition and allot them symbols accordingly. The Commission under this order also has the power to decide disputes that may arise among rival groups or sections of a political party[ii].
Presidential and Vice-Presidential Rules, 1974
This Act is made for the conducting of elections of the President and Vice-President. This Act consists of provisions that provide the whole process for conducting elections such as:
- Voting by electors under preventive detention
- Adjournment of the poll in emergencies
- Place and time for counting of votes
- Maintenance of secrecy of voting
- Production and inspection of election papers
- Copies of return of election.
Anti-defection Law, 1985
This law was introduced during the 52nd Constitutional AmendmentAct and is enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution which is also known as the Anti-defection Law. A member of a House belonging to a party if voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party or votes or abstains from voting, contrary to the directions of his political party or if an independent member joins a political party after the election then that particular member will come under the situation of defection.
A political party cannot spend the election campaigns according to their desires but there is a limit set by the Election Commission. As mentioned in Rule 90 of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. The candidates are supposed to keep a separate account for their election expenses and file it to the concerned authority.
Universal Adult Suffrage
Adult Suffrage[iii]means that any citizen of India either male or female who is over 18 years of age has a Right to Vote. The rule of Adult Franchise was adopted in the Constitution of India. The minimum age for a person to be eligible to vote was 21 years during the implementation of the Constitution but was later amended from 21 years to 18 years the 61st Amendment Act.
Right to Vote
Right to vote[iv] has been enshrined in the constitution. This right is neither a Fundamental nor a Constitutional Right though it is a statutory or legal right. This right has been enshrined in the Constitution but the right has been shaped by the Representation of People Act, 1951.
Be the change you want to see in the world.Mahatma Gandhi
In recent time, there has been a need to set up a Model Code of Conduct as this code is said to should reflect constitutional morality& values of good governance. The acts of the persons holding public offices should be subjected to better & meaningful public scrutiny, which in turn would ensure democratic accountability further it has been noted that the current model code of conduct is more focused on the financial aspects of the ministers rather than public and private relations in the 2019 Lok Sabha more than 40% of the MPs have had a dealing with the crime and have a criminal case against them.
[ii]Para 15 of Election Symbols Order, 1968