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Thursday, 10 September, 2009

The Election Commission of India

Established On:

January 25, 1950 (under Article 324 of Constitution of India)

Status and Power of Election Commission:

It is an autonomous, quasi-judiciary constitutional body. It is insulated from any kind of executive interference. Its recommendations and opinions, in matters of electoral disputes and other matters involving the conduct of elections, are binding on the President of India. However, the decisions of the body are liable for independent judiciary reviews by courts acting on electoral petitions.

Duties of Election Commission:

Conduct free and fair elections in India. The Election Commission is one of the four pillars of the Indian Constitution, the other three being the Supreme Court (SC) of India, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

During the elections, the entire Central (Federal) and State government machinery including para-military forces and the Police is deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission which takes effective control of personnel, movable and immovable Government Properties it deems necessary for successful completion of the electoral process. The Apart from conducting elections to representative bodies, the Election Commission has been on many occasions, called upon by the Courts to oversee and execute elections to various governing bodies of other autonomous organisations, such as Syndicates of Universities, statutory professional bodies, etc.

The following are the principal functions of the Election Commission of India:

1. Demarcation of Constituencies

2. Preparation of Electoral Rolls

3. Recognition of Political parties and allotment of symbols

4. Scrutiny of nomination papers

5. Conduct of polls

6. Scrutiny of election expenses of candidates

Structure of Election Commission:

The commission presently consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners, appointed by the president. The present positions as held by:

CEC: Navin Chawla (as on April 21, 2009)

Election Commissioners: S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath

Chief Election Commissioners of India:

The following have held the post of the Chief Election Commissioner of India:

1. Sukumar Sen: 21 March 1950 to 19 December 1958

2. K.V.K. Sundaram: 20 December 1958 to 30 September 1967

3. S.P. Sen Verma: 1 October 1967 to 30 September 1972

4. Nagendra Singh: 1 October 1972 to 6 February 1973

5. T. Swaminathan: 7 February 1973 to 17 June 1977

6. S.L. Shakdhar: 18 June 1977 to 17 June 1982

7. R.K. Trivedi: 18 June 1982 to 31 December 1985

8. R.V.S. Peri Sastri: 1 January 1986 to 25 November 1990

9. V.S. Ramadevi: 26 November 1990 to 11 December 1990

10. T.N. Seshan: 12 December 1990 to 11 December 1996

11. M.S. Gill: 12 December 1996 to 13 June 2001

12. J.M. Lyngdoh: 14 June 2001 to 7 February 2004

13. T.S. Krishnamurthy: 8 February 2004 to 15 May 2005

14. B.B. Tandon: 16 May 2005 to 28 June 2006

15. N. Gopalaswami: 29 June 2006 to 20 April 2009

16. Navin Chawla: 21 April 2009 (Current)

Appointment of Commissioners:

The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years and 62 years respectively, whichever is earlier. They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament. Other Election Commissioner may be removed by the President on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.

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