The Election Commission is charged with superintending, directing and ‘controlling the elections in India to various elected bodies, like the parliament, State Assemblies, and offices of the president, Vice president of India.
Since its inception in 1950, and till October 1989, the Chief Election Commissioner functioned as a single member body consisting of the Chief Election Commissioner. On October 16, 1989, the President appointed two more Election Commissioners on the eve of elections to the Lok Sabha held in November-December 1989 (Posts abolished on January 1, 1990).
On October 1, 1993, the president appointed two more Election Commissioners. All the three, namely Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners were to be equal in salary as well as powers . In case of difference of opinion on any issue the majority decision was to be declared valid.
Section 29 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, provides for registration of political parties by the Election Commission. A party registration with the Election Commission may be granted recognition as a National or State Party on the fulfillment of certain criteria based on its poll performance.
If a party fulfils the criteria for recognition under the Election symbol, in our or more states, it is deemed to be a National party. A political party recognized in less than four states is a state Party for the state or states it is recognized as such. An exclusive symbol is reserved for a National Party throughout India. In the case of a State Party, a symbol is reserved for it in the state or states in which it is so recognized.
Such symbols are allotted only to the candidates of the parties for which they are so reserved. As on August 13, 1996, as many as 551 political parties were registered with the Election Commission. Of them eight parties were recognized as National Parties and 37 parties as state parties.
The election law has undergone some important changes since August 1, 1996 in the Representation of the peoples (Amendment) Act. Important changes are:
(i) Disqualification on conviction Act 1971. Any conviction for insulting the national symbol, say flag, or the constitution,
(ii) Increase in security of the candidates. Deposit of MP Rs 19,000, concessions for scheduled caste. Deposit for MLA Rs. 5,000, concessions for schedules caste,
(iii) Restriction on contesting election for more than two seats,
(iv) Listing of candidates by party,
(v) On death of a candidate’s the party can nominate another candidates without paying fresh deposit,
(vi) Prohibition of going armed near a polling station.
(vii) All registered electors to be paid on holiday,
(viii) No liquor to be sold served near a booth,
(ix) Time limit for holding bye-elections.
Reservation of seats:
The constitution provides for determination of seats reserved for scheduled tribes in Arunachal pradesh, Meghalaya, Mijoram, and Nagaland. There are also other kinds of reservations of seats in the country.
Eleven Lok Sabha and the same number of state assembly elections have been held in the country so far. The First General Elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies A, B and C states were held in 1951-52. Second general elections were held in 1957, shortly after reorganization of States as simultaneous elections both for the Lok Sabha and the state Legislative Assemblies of Kerala and Orissa got out of step with the general elections.
With the result that simultaneous elections could not be held in these two states. In 1967 fourth general election the lok sabha were held as usual, out Nagaland and Pondicherry held their Assembly elections away from the general elections. In 1971 fifth general elections were held for the Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies including Orissa, Tamil Nadu and West Bangle in which elections had been held in 1967.
In 1977, Kerala was the only state where elections to legislative Assembly were held along with the sixth general elections for the Lok Sabha for Whole of India. In January 1980, the seventh general elections were held, to the Lok Sabha along with simultaneous Legislative Assemblies in Manipur, Arunchal Pradesh, Daman and Diu and Pondicherry.
The eighth general elections to the Lok Sabha were held on December 28, 1984, along with simultaneous election to legislative Assemblies in 20 states and union territories, except Assam and Punjab.
The ninth Lok Sabha elections were held in the last week of November 1989 except in Assam where the revision of rolls was not complete by that time. Simultaneous election was also held to constitute new assemblies in Andhra Pradesh.
The ninth Lok Sabha did not serve its full term. The house was dissolved on March 12 ; 1991. Elections to 511 seats of the tenth Lok sabha were held on May 12 1991 except six seats in Jammu and Kashmir, and 13 seats in Punjab.
Elections were also held for the state Legislative Assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Utter Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and pondicherry seats in 14 states was held on November 16, 1991. Elections to the lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Punjab were held on February 9, 1992.
The term of the tenth Lok Sabha was to expire on July 8, 1996. General Elections to the Lok Sabha were held on April 27, and may 2, 7, 27, and 1996. Elections were also held to constitute new Assembly in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, west Bengal, Assam and Pondicherry.
Assembly election in the state of Jammu and Kashmir was conducted in September 1996, after a gap of nearly nine years. Elections to constitute new assembly in Utter Pradesh were also held in September-October 1996.
The twelfth mid-term elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies were held from February 16 to March 8, 1998. State Assembly elections to Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram were held in November 1998.