Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Powers of Election Commission

What are the Powers of Election Commission during Lok Sabha or other elections? Model Code of Conduct does not have statutory power. If a candidate does not follow the code there is not much EC can do except perhaps countermanding the election in which case other candidates are also punished for no fault of theirs. Parties willingly follow the code so it has moral power. Cases are registered for code violations but not much seems to have happened. Sometimes it is for using more vehicles than permitted. It is not known what happens to cash and liquor bottles seized.
Governments have to function. Many administrative decisions are to be taken. EC permission is not necessary for such decisions. However elections are an excuse not to take decisions. Admiral D. K. Joshi resigned on 26/2/2014. Government accepted his resignation with immediate effect. For four weeks no admiral was appointed. Then Defence Ministry approached EC for permission to appoint admiral. This is an attempt to hide the delay.
Last working day of February is the usual day for presenting central government budget. Election in a state should not be a reason for postponing the budget. RBI may issue banking licences if the process is complete.
Exit poll telecasts are banned till the last date of polling is over but TV channels get over the ban by talking of projections. Discussion on possible outcome cannot be banned as it will infringe on freedom of speech and expression.
Once EC ordered covering of Mayawati and elephant statues, elephant being the symbol of BSP. In one place winds blew away covers. New covers had to be put. This time EC did not pass such order.
In 1977 voting was on 16 and 20 March. In 1980 voting was on 3 and 6 January. In 1984 voting was on 24, 27 and 28 December. In 1989 voting was on 22, 24 and 26 November. Since 1991 voting has spread over a period of around one month. This time voting is on nine dates beginning on 7 April and ending on 12 May. Counting is on 16 May. This is of Lok Sabha elections. Legislative Assembly elections take place every year as different states have elections at different times. Several state elections are clubbed together. Model Code of Conduct comes into effect when elections are announced. From 1977 to 1989 voting was held within five days from first to last. There is no good reason to stretch voting on many days. EC should hold voting on a single day or within five days from first to last.

Updated: March 27, 2014 — 7:47 am

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  1. Thanks for this informative post! Poor EC has loads of work….on top of that terror n naxal threats…hope all goes well..

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