Headline : Article 324 and role of Election Commission India
What is Article 324?
- Article 324 of the Indian Constitution vests the power of “superintendence, direction and control” of elections to the Election Commission of India.
Functions of Election Commission
- The Election Commission of India is the custodian of free and fair elections.
- It regulates political parties and registers them for being eligible to contest elections.
- It publishes the allowed limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
- It issues the Model Code of Conduct in every election for political parties and candidates so that the dignity of democracy is maintained.
- The political parties must submit their annual reports to the ECI for getting tax benefit on contributions.
- It ensures that all the political parties regularly submit their audited financial reports.
Nature of the powers of the Election Commission of India
- The Constitution empowers the Election Commission to lay down the policy to decide administrative matters of importance and also adjudicate electoral disputes.
- Therefore, besides administrative functions, it may be called upon to perform quasi-judicial duties also.
- The Commission can suppress the results of opinion polls if it deems such an action fit for the cause of democracy.
- The Commission can advise for disqualification of members after the elections if it thinks they have violated certain guidelines.
- In case a candidate is found guilty of corrupt practices during the elections, the Supreme Court and High Courts consult the Commission.
- The Commission can suspend candidates who fail to submit their election expense accounts timely.
From laws of Parliament
- The Parliament enacted the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission.
- According to the Section 28A in the RP Act of 1951, all officers deployed for the conduct of an election shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission from the notification of the election to the declaration of the results.
- Such officers shall, during that period, be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission
- Note: The ECI took action against officers in West Bengal for failing in discharge of their duties.
From SC Judgements
- The scope of EC’s powers have also expanded through various SC judgements.
- For example, in Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Commissioner and Others case (1977), the Supreme Court held that Article 324 is a plenary provision vesting the whole responsibility for national and State elections in the ECI and, therefore, the necessary powers to discharge that function
- However, SC clarified that EC functions are subject to the norms of fairness and it cannot act arbitrarily.
- Note: Article 324 protects the ECI, but does not allow it to become a law unto itself.