Analytical Study of the Election Commission of India


Democracy of India is its key feature, India claims to be the largest Democracy in the world. Democracy is what ‘we the people’ gave to ourselves guarded by The Constitution of India (supreme law of India). The concept of Democracy is the basic feature of the Constitution of India, which involves the representation of the people by the method of Election. In India, Democracy is the basic and inseparable part of the Constitution which is practiced in Parliamentary form consisting of the President of India and two houses- Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the selection of candidates for all these respective posts is the duty of the Election Commission of India.[1]

Election Commission of India is the separate and autonomous body which is responsible for administering the entire process of Election in India at National, State and District level. Ever since this body came into existence, they made the process of Election easy with time along with security while voting and avoidance of proxy vote. They are the sole and individual part which deals with Election and follow a particular process through which the Elections are conducted in such a large population. In this process they are not decisive to take decisions so they at times also had to go through the judicial hearings since the Constitution is the supreme and nothing is above it.[2]

Facts and Background

Based on Universal Adult Suffrage there was a vital need to hold general Elections after Independence in August 1947. Article 324, of Constitution of India which provided for setting up of Election Commission as an independent Constitutional authority came into action from November 26th, 1949 irrespective of the other provisions. The day before India became Sovereign Democratic, Election Commission was formed i.e. January 25th, 1950. Shri Sukumar Sen was Appointed the First Chief Election Commissioner on March 21st, 1950. The Commission was a single member functioning body until October 16th, 1989 which then converted into a three-member body until January 1st, 1990 which was again reverted to a single member body, it was reversed to three members from October 1st, 1993 as yet. [3]

With the approval of Parliament and consultation of the Election Commission the President issued the Delimitation orders for the first General Elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha on August 13th,1951. Representation of the People Act,1950 was the first act passed by the Parliament for the conduct of Elections providing mainly for the preparation of electoral rolls which gave it a legal framework for the initial stretch, subsequently the July 17th 1951 act which consisted of the procedure for the conduct of Elections to both houses of Parliament and Vidhan  Sabha for each state emerged under the name of Representation of the People Act, 1951.[4]

During the first General Election in 1951-52 the Commission recognized 14 political parties as multi-state parties and 39 state parties. Currently there are six recognized National parties and forty-seven State recognized parties. For the first two general elections the Commission adopted the balloting system of voting, from the third Election onwards the Commission switched over to the marking system of voting. The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was used on an experimental basis in Paravur Assembly Constituency in Kerala in 1982 for the first time. Later widespread use of EVM started in 1998. In the 14th general elections to the Lok Sabha EVM were used at all polling stations in the country. Since then all elections of Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies have been using EVMs.

The Election Commission of India consists of a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), and two other Election Commissioner (EC), the multi member Election Commission of India works on the power of majority vote. The term for the CEC and EC is of Six years or up to age of sixty-five years whichever is earlier. Major decision was taken in S.S Dhanoa vs. Union of India (1991)[5] where the Apex court held that the Chief Election Commissioner does not appear to be primus inter pares (a first among equals) but is deliberated at a higher position. Other significant judgement was of T.N. Seshan vs. Union of India (1995)[6] wherethe Supreme court held that the CEC and EC are equal, CEC cannot use its power to remove any EC without justifiable reason. CEC cannot use its Suo moto (act of authority without formal prompting from another party) as he is equal to ECs there after the three of them share the same status but different responsibilities.

Brief Description

The country has been divided into 543 Parliamentary Constituencies, each of which returns one Member of Parliament to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament. The Indian democratic federal has thirty-six constituent units. All twenty-nine states and two of the seven union territories have their own assemblies-Vidhan Sabhas. There are 4120 constituencies in thirty-one assembly. The system of Election is carried out using a ‘first past the post’ electoral system. The electors can cast their vote for a single candidate, the one who gets the most votes are the winner. [7]

Rajya Sabha is the council of states whose members are elected indirectly by each state Vidhan Sabha by using a single transferable vote system, these members can serve for six years and elections are staggered with one third council being elected every 2 years. Lok Sabha is House of the People who are directly elected by the adult member of India from single member territorial Parliamentary Constituencies under the ‘first past the posts’ system. Rajya Sabha is depicted as the upper house of the Parliament and Vidhan Sabha as upper house of state legislatures. The President and Vice President offices are elected on the basis of proportional representation through a single transferable vote system where the President is elected by the elected representatives of Vidhan Sabha, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha and serves for a period of 5 years. The Vice President is elected by direct vote of all members elected as well as nominated of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.[8]

Right to information and its related cases

Right to information which plays a crucial role in the electoral process evolved making various changes in the Law and hence shortening the gap between the public and the government. In a landmark judgement Union of India vs. Association for Democratic Reforms and Another (2002)[9]  it was mentioned that the citizens under right to freedom of speech and expression have a comprehensive right to know about the public functionaries and candidates for office which included their educational background, criminal records, their assets etc. This order gained clarity after Public Union for Civil Liberties and Another vs. Union of India and Another (2003)[10] In this judgement the highest court declared a section which comprised that candidates cannot disclose any information about themselves unconstitutional. In case R.Unnikrishna Pillai vs. Anto Antony Punnathaniyil (2011)[11] The Supreme court also cleared that if any candidate has not disclosed information in an affidavit regarding its property which the candidate has transferred before any formal notification regarding elections happened he cannot be forbidden from elections and if he is set aside, the judicial proceedings will lead to unnecessary waste of time as elections cannot be set aside for this reason.

 Further in Resurgence India vs. Election Commission of India and Another (2013)[12] The court cleared the guidelines regarding affidavit filing, the court said that “ The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit along with the nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of the citizen under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution. The citizen is required to have the necessary information at the time of filing of the nomination paper in order to make a choice of their voting. When a candidate files an affidavit with blank particulars it renders the affidavit itself nugatory.” It also mentioned that if wrong information is supplied it will attract direct rejection of nomination paper under Section 125A of Representatives of Peoples Act 1951 which will act as its penalization for wrongdoing. To avoid it all the candidate must take least effort to explicitly mark ‘nil’ or ‘not applicable’ or ‘not known’ in the columns and not leave it void.

While the process of electoral reform was happening the landmark order People’s Union of Civil Liberties vs. Union of India (2013)[13] the Supreme court ruled that Constitution protects people’s right of not to vote as a part of fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression thus concluding that the rules as they stood were violative to the fundamental rights and lined that a ‘None of the above’ option should be included in electronic voting machines (EVM).   

The time duration of Elections is decided by the Election Commission and nobody can deny it. In a case of Babu Lal Marandi vs. The Speaker Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha (2015)[14] The court cleared that the schedule of Elections cannot be changed for political reasons and should occur only as per the schedule of the Commission and if anyone is aggrieved by the decision of the Commission they are free to challenge the decision as per the law. The actual process of Election is  not that easy for such a huge population, hence there comes a need to place government servants to conduct the elections in every state, district, village etc. aimed at the same the Government servants, Teachers of government schools are kept on duty during the Election, in a case of  Election Commission of India vs. St. Mary’s school and other (2007)[15] the apex court cleared the guidelines regarding the hindrance of fundamental right, they stated that if the teaching staff is kept for the duty during the time of teaching hours, working days it will be blocking basic rights of Education so the Teachers should be kept on Election duty only on holidays or non-working hours.

To govern the process fluently Election laws use delimitation of boundaries hence funnelling the jurisdiction of the area. In a case of Election Commission of India vs. Mohd Abdul Ghani (1995)[16] the Supreme court held that writ of mandamus cannot be used to determine the boundaries of area for Election Commission as they are determined as per the Delimitation act 2002 and hence the Election Commission cannot be enforced to function on anything forbidden by the law.


All these above cases exemplify that despite the amendments brought in Election Laws and development in the process, the Independent Commission is still criticized and besides also questioned. Community faces issues in the voting process, they claim the EVMs to be imperfect and the results not completely authentic. Further there is a huge issue of many voters names being left out irrespective of registrations, this also leads them barred away from the process of voting as a result of which there is great difference in the results of the elections, the people are hence left with the question of where did their names go from the list. Critics also question the validity practice of the model code of conduct of the Commission, as during the campaigning when some parties end up giving hate speeches, they are left giving partial punishments or turning blind in their favour. As technology is improving hour by hour the Election Commission is now planning to Digitalize the Election process but if such critics continue it poses a question towards law of how efficient the Commission work will be concerning the situation subsequently. [17]


Katju, M. (2006). Election Commission and Functioning of Democracy. Economic and Political Weekly, 41(17), 1635-1640. Retrieved May 18, 2020, from

[2] MEHTA, P. (2012). State and Democracy in India. Polish Sociological Review, (178), 203-225. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from

[3] Bhalla, R. (1972). ELECTORAL MECHANISM IN INDIA (1951-1971). The Indian Journal of Political Science, 33(1), 27-57. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from

[4] Ramesh, R. (2011). HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE ELECTORAL REFORMS IN INDIA. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 72, 1325-1336. Retrieved May 18, 2020, from

[5]  1991 AIR 1745, 1991 SCR (3) 159

[6] Writ Petition (civil)  805 of 1993

[7] FADIA, B. (1992). REFORMING THE ELECTION COMMISSION. The Indian Journal of Political Science, 53(1), 78-88. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from

[8] (n.d.). Retrieved from

[9] (2002) 5 SCC 294

[10] AIR[2003] SC 2363

[11] El.Pet..No. 4 of 2009()

[12] 1 WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 121 OF 2008

[13] 1 WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 161 OF 2004

[14] W.P.(C) No. 2754 of 2015

[15] Appeal (civil) 5659 of 2007

[16] 1995 SCC (6) 721, JT 1995 (7) 590

[17] Kumar, B. (2002). Critical Issues in Electoral Reforms. The Indian Journal of Political Science, 63(1), 73-88. Retrieved May 18, 2020, from

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