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Understanding The Central Election Committee: Roles, Functions, And Significance

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Introduction:

Within Political Parties, The Central Election Committee (CEC) Is An Essential Organization That Makes Vital Choices About Candidate Selection And Election Strategy. We Examine The Central Election Committee’s Responsibilities, Roles, And Importance In Relation To Political Parties In This Extensive Guide.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a constitutional body established by the Constitution of India empowered to conduct free and fair elections in India. The Election commission is headed by a Chief Election Commissioner and consists of two other Election Commissioners.

Structure:

Since 1950, the Election Commission of India was a single member body with only the Chief Election Commissioner. As per The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1989, the Commission was made a multi-member body with two additional election commissioners who were appointed to the commission for the first time on 16 October 1989. On 1 January 1990, the post of election commissioners were abolished again. The Election Commission was once again made as a three member body on 1 October 1993. The commission is headquartered at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi. The Election commission is headed by a Chief Election Commissioner and consists of two other Election Commissioners. They are further assisted by Directors General, Principal Secretaries, and Secretaries. The chief election commissioner does not have overruling powers and any decision is taken by the opinion of the majority among the three.

At the states and union territories, the Election Commission is assisted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the state or union territory (CEO), who leads the election machinery in the states and union territories. At the district and constituency levels, the District Magistrates/District Collectors (in their capacity as District Election Officers), Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers perform election work.

Appointment and term of office:

The appointment and term of the election commissioner is prescribed in the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Act, 2023. As per the Section 7 of the act, an election commissioner is appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a selection committee headed by the Prime Minister of India and consisting of the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and a member of the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister. The term of the CEC can be a maximum of six years from the date on which he/she assumes his office. However, the CEC retires from office if he/she attains the age of sixty-five years before the expiry of the term. While the CEC can only be removed by office through the process of impeachment requiring two-thirds majority of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to be present and voting for the same, election commissioners can be removed by the President on the recommendation of the CEC.

Powers and functions:

It issues a Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates to ensure that the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner. The Code of Conduct was issued for the first time in 1971 for the 5th Lok Sabha elections and has revised it from time to time. It lays down guidelines for the conduct of political parties and candidates during an election period. Instances of violation of the code by various political parties and misuse of official machinery by the candidates are dealt according to the law.

A law for the registration process for political parties was enacted in 1989. The registration ensures that the political parties are recognized as national, state and regional parties. The election commission has the right to allot symbols to the political parties depending on the status. The same symbol cannot be allocated to two political parties even if they do not contest in the region.

The commission prepares electoral rolls and updates the voter list. To prevent electoral fraud, Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) were introduced in 1993. However certain legal documents such as ration cards have been allowed for voting in certain situations.

The commission is empowered to prohibit the dissemination or publication of voting trends that seek to influence voters by opinion polls or exit polls.

The Election Commission is responsible for scrutinizing and accepting the applications of the candidates willing to contest in the elections. A person can be disqualified from contesting the elections if correct or incomplete information is provided in the affidavits and if he/she has been convicted by any court in India in which a jail term of two or more years has been awarded. In 2017, the Election Commission supported the case for a lifetime ban on convicted felons from contesting elections in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.

The Election Commission sets limits on poll related expenditure by the candidates during election campaigns. The commission appoints officers of Indian Revenue Service from the Income Tax Department as Election Observers. The commission takes details of the candidate’s assignment in an affidavit at the time of submitting the nomination paper, and they are also required to give details of their expenditure within 30 days of the declaration of results.

The election commission operates various electronic media including websites and mobile applications for enabling various functions such as addressing grievances, checking electoral rolls, disseminating information on candidates, announcement of results and monitoring of assigned tasks.

Voting:

Central Election Committee
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT)

Voting in India is done using Electronic voting machines (EVMs) and there are provisions for Postal voting and special arrangements for the disabled.

Electronic voting machines (EVM) were introduced by the Election Commission to reduce malpractices and improve efficiency. The EVMs were first trialed in 1982 in the by-election to Paravur assembly constituency in Kerala in a limited number of polling stations. After successful testing and legal inquiries, the commission decided to introduce these voting machines on a large scale. EVMs are manufactured by two public sector undertakings, Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India Limited. Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) was introduced on a trail basis in a by-poll in September 2013 in Noksen (Assembly Constituency) in Nagaland. It was later used in various Legislative elections and in eight Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014 Indian general election.

Definition And Objective:

A Political Party’s High-Level Decision-Making Body, The Central Election Committee (CEC), Is In Charge Of Choosing Candidates, Organizing Campaigns, And Developing The Party’s Overall Electoral Strategy. It Acts As The Key Body In Charge Of Guaranteeing The Party’s Victory In Elections For Different Governmental Positions.

Make-Up:

Party To Party, The Central Election Committee’s Membership Varies, But It Usually Consists Of Important Party Officials, Regional And Interest Group Representatives, And Senior Party Leaders. The Party President Or Another Selected Figurehead With Jurisdiction Over Elections Frequently Serves As The Committee’s Chair.

Functions & Roles:

The Central Election Committee Carries Out A Number Of Vital Duties, Such As:

Choosing Applicants:

Among The Main Purposes Of The The List Of Candidates The Party Will Field For Elections Must Be Finalized By CEC. During This Procedure, Candidates Are Assessed According To Their Electoral Viability, Popularity, Party Loyalty, And Winning Potential.

Planning The Campaign:

The CEC Is In Charge Of Creating The Party’s Electoral Campaign Plan, Which Includes Deciding On Priorities, Locating Target Audiences, Distributing Funds, And Organizing Grassroots Efforts. The Committee Is In Charge Of Creating The Themes, Catchphrases, And Messaging That Will Be Used In The Campaign To Inspire And Win Over Voters.

Management Of Alliances:

When It Comes To Coalition Politics, The CEC Is Essential To The Process Of Forming And Overseeing Agreements With Other Political Parties. It Chooses How Seats Will Be Shared, Assigns Constituencies To Alliance Members, And Settles Disagreements Or Disputes That Can Come Up While Forming A Coalition.

Formulation Of Policies:

The Party’s Election Platform And Policy Program May Be Developed With Input From The CEC. In Order To Connect Them With The Party’s Basic Ideology And Political Goals, It Offers Input On The Major Policy Priorities, Initiatives, And Pledges That The Party Plans To Carry Out If Voted To Power.

Adherence To Law:

The CEC’s Responsibility For Ensuring Adherence To Electoral Laws, Rules, And Regulations Is Another Significant One. It Supervises The Delivery, To The Appropriate Electoral Authorities In Compliance With Legal Requirements, Of All Necessary Documents, Including Reports On Election Expenditures And Candidate Nomination Papers.

Process Of Making Decisions:

The Central Election Committee Usually Uses A Consultative And Collaborative Approach To Decision-Making, Engaging Committee Members In Talks, Debates, And Negotiations Participants. The Party President Or Other Selected Leader Frequently Has A Significant Influence In Steering The Discussions And Deciding On Important Matters, Even Though The Committee As A Whole Makes The Final Decision.

Importance:

Within Political Parties, The Central Election Committee Is Very Important For A Number Of Reasons.

Making Strategic Decisions:

The CEC Is In Charge Of Making Tactical Choices That Have A Big Influence On The Party’s Chances Of Winning Elections. Senior Leaders And Important Stakeholders Are Brought Together By The Committee To Make Sure Decisions Are Well-Informed, Thoughtful, And In Line With The Party’s Overarching Goals.

Cohesion And Unity:

The CEC Is Essential In Maintaining Harmony And Unity Within The Party Since It Offers A Forum For Discussion, Reaching Agreements, And Resolving Disputes. It Facilitates The Resolution Of Disagreements Between Party Members And Makes Certain That Everyone Is Dedicated To The Group’s Objective Of Winning The Election.

Transparency And Accountability:

The CEC Fosters Accountability And Openness Inside The Party By Centralizing The Candidate Selection And Campaign Planning Processes. The Public, Party Members, And Supporters Scrutinize The Committee’s Decisions, Which Increases The Party’s Legitimacy And Dependability.

The Achievement Of Election Success:

The Party’s Electoral Performance Is Ultimately Determined In Large Measure By The Central Election Committee. The Committee Works To Optimize The Party’s Chances Of Winning Elections And Creating Government At Different Levels Of Governance Through The Selection Of Strong Candidates, The Creation Of Successful Campaign Plans, And The Management Of Alliances.

Problems And Rebuttals:

The Central Election Committee May Encounter A Number Of Difficulties And Objections In Spite Of Its Significance, Such As:

Internal Conflicts:

Sometimes, Internal Within The Party, Rivalries And Power Battles Could Compromise The CEC’s Efficacy. Conflicts Of Interest, Factionalism, And Individual Goals Can Impede The Committee’s Capacity To Make Decisions And Work Together.

Transparency Deficit:

The CEC’s Decision-Making Procedure Is Criticized For Being Opaque And Unaccountable, Which Has Given Rise To Claims Of Nepotism, Favoritism, And Backroom Agreements. Restrictions On Access To Information Regarding The Committee’s Activities Could Exacerbate Mistrust And Undermine Confidence Among The Public And Party Members.

The Power Of Money And Muscle:

Concerns Over The Use Of Money And Force In The Selection Of Candidates May Arise When Certain Candidates May Be Selected On The Basis Of Their Financial Means Or Their Capacity To Rally Support Through Threats Or Coercion.

Restricted Inclusion:

It’s Possible That The CEC’s Makeup Doesn’t Always Accurately Represent The Variety Of The Party’s Supporters Or Membership Base. Feelings Of Alienation Or Discontent May Result From Specific Groups Or Areas Within The Party Feeling Marginalized Or Excluded From The Decision-Making Process.

Summary:

Within Political Parties, The Central Election Committee Is Crucial In Determining Candidate Choices, Campaign Tactics, And Election Results. Senior Leaders And Important Stakeholders Are Brought Together By The Committee To Make Sure Decisions Are Well-Informed, Thoughtful, And In Line With The Party’s Overarching Goals. To Preserve The Credibility And Efficacy Of The Democratic Process, It Must Address Issues Including Internal Conflicts, A Lack Of Openness, And The Impact Of Money And Force.

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