Election Commission of India

2024 MAR 28

Mains   > Constitution   >   Indian Constitution   >   Election Commission


GS 2 >> Constitutional Bodies


  • In a recent development, Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, both retired bureaucrats, have been swiftly appointed as Election Commissioners.
  • This appointment comes just two days before the scheduled announcement of the dates for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. They now join Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Election Commissioner, forming the three-member panel of the Election Commission of India.


  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • Part XV (Article 324-329): It deals with elections and establishes a commission for these matters.
  • Presently, it consists of the CEC and two Election Commissioners (ECs).


The Election Commission of India (ECI) has been pivotal in upholding the democratic process through several key accomplishments:

  • Ensuring Free and Fair Elections: The ECI has played a crucial role in conducting 17 general and more than 370 state elections since 1947, emphasizing fairness and unbiased processes.
  • Global Recognition: Celebrated as an "undocumented wonder," the ECI has efficiently managed some of the world's largest elections, including the 2019 general elections with 900 million voters, spanning over 39 days.
  • Promoting Inclusive Participation: Initiatives by the ECI have led to increased participation from marginalized and poorer sections of society, ensuring their representation without fear of intimidation or coercion. This includes implementing reserved constituencies and measures to combat electoral fraud.
  • Introduction of Voter ID Cards: In 1993, under Chief Election Commissioner T. N. Seshan, the ECI introduced Voter ID cards to strengthen the integrity of the electoral roll and minimize impersonation.
  • Adoption of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs): The transition to EVMs has streamlined the voting process, enhancing efficiency, reducing the potential for fraud, and increasing the transparency of elections in India.
  • Enforcement of Model Code of Conduct: The ECI enforces the Model Code of Conduct to ensure fair competition among political parties and candidates, laying down guidelines for conduct and campaigning.
  • Technological Innovations: The ECI has leveraged technology to enhance electoral processes, including online voter registration and verification, mobile apps for voter education, and the cVIGIL app for reporting electoral violations.
  • Voter Education Programs: Extensive voter education campaigns have been launched to increase awareness and participation, informing citizens about their rights and the importance of informed voting.


Governance and Independence Concerns

  • The Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners' selection process involves a committee dominated by the government, including the Prime Minister and a cabinet minister, raising questions about the ECI's independence.
  • Allegations of political bias have been directed at the ECI, with critiques on its decision-making and impartiality in managing electoral disputes and enforcing the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Constitutional and Statutory Limitations

  • The Indian Constitution lacks specificity regarding the qualifications, tenure, and post-retirement appointments of Election Commission members, potentially affecting the commission's functionality and independence.
  • The ECI does not possess the power to deregister political parties, even in instances of significant violations, nor can it enforce regulations on party finances or internal democracy.

Financial and Operational Autonomy

  • The ECI's financial autonomy is limited, as it relies on the central government for funding, rather than having its expenses directly drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Security of tenure for the Election Commissioners is not firmly established, as their removal can be recommended by the Chief Election Commissioner to the government, rather than requiring a formal impeachment process.

Electoral Integrity and Fairness

  • Persistent issues with voter roll irregularities, such as duplicates and omissions, compromise the accuracy and fairness of elections.
  • Reports of electoral fraud, including EVM tampering and voter impersonation, along with electoral violence in conflict-prone regions, challenge the integrity of the electoral process.

Voter Accessibility and Inclusivity

  • Despite efforts to make voting more accessible, barriers remain for voters with disabilities, linguistic minorities, and residents of remote areas, affecting their ability to participate in elections.
  • The abrupt transfer of key officials by the ECI and instances of MCC violations by political entities point to the need for stronger enforcement mechanisms to uphold election fairness.


  • Establishing an Autonomous Appointment Committee: Formulate an independent committee for the selection of Election Commissioners that includes members from various sectors beyond the government to ensure transparency and impartiality in appointments. This follows the Supreme Court's 2023 Anoop Baranwal vs Union of India judgment mandating appointments by the President based on a committee's advice including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.
  • Legal Protections for Commissioners: Introduce laws specifying the conditions for the removal of Election Commissioners, embedding strong procedural safeguards to prevent unwarranted dismissals and ensure their stability in office.
  • Financial Autonomy and Transparency: Adopt transparent and accountable funding mechanisms for the Election Commission, potentially through parliamentary oversight or an autonomous budget committee, to mitigate biases in financial allocation.
  • Establishing a Spectrum of Disciplinary Measures: Grant the Election Commission authority to impose a variety of sanctions on political entities for infractions, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to deregistration, tailored to match the gravity of the violation.
  • Bolstering Electoral Process Security: Advance efforts to secure electoral integrity by adopting robust countermeasures against fraud, enhancing the reliability of electronic voting systems, and improving voter roll accuracy. Initiatives could include broader deployment of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems for greater transparency and trust.
  • Advancements in Electoral Technology: Leverage technology to modernize and streamline electoral operations, considering innovative solutions like blockchain for secure and tamper-proof voting mechanisms to foster trust and efficiency in the electoral system.
  • Fostering Inclusive Electoral Participation:Take targeted actions to eliminate barriers to voting, ensuring polling places are accessible to all, including voters with disabilities, through practical measures like ramps and tactile voting systems, and addressing voter suppression and disenfranchisement actively.
  • Global Electoral Engagement: Enhance international engagement with electoral bodies worldwide to exchange insights, build capabilities, and adopt international best practices, boosting the Election Commission's global standing and effectiveness.

Moving forward, the success of the Election Commission of India will hinge on its adaptability to new technologies, the reinforcement of its governing laws, the encouragement of broad electoral participation, and its steadfast commitment to democratic values. 

By bolstering the authority and capabilities of the Election Commission to efficiently manage and supervise elections, India can solidify its dedication to the principles of democracy and build greater trust and assurance in the electoral process among its populace.


Q: Analyze the accomplishments and challenges linked with the operational efficacy of the Election Commission of India. Suggest reforms to strengthen and empower the Election Commission of India. (15M,250W)