The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, constitutionally established federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes in the Republic of India. The Election Commission has the power of superintendence, direction and control of all elections to the Parliament of India and the state legislatures and of elections to the office of the President of India and the Vice-President of India.
Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950. The Commission celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2001.
The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, 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.
The commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision making power by majority vote.
Sukumar Sen was an Indian civil servant who was the first Chief Election Commissioner of India. The current Chief Election Commissioner is V. S. Sampath.
The Election Commission had tried to bring improvements in election procedures by introduction of EVM – Electronic Voting Machines. It was thought that EVMs would reduce malpractices and improve efficiency. It was first tried out on an experimental basis in the state of Kerala for the 1982 Legislative Assembly Elections.
To prevent electoral fraud, in 1993 EPICs – Electorals Photo Identity Cards were issued. In the 2004 elections, it was mandatory to possess the card.
The Election Commission is regarded as guardian of free and fair elections. In every election, it issues a Model code of Conduct for political parties and candidates to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971. There are instances of violation of code by the political parties and complaints are received for misuse of official machinery by the candidates.
The Election Commission has fixed the legal limits on the amount of money which a candidate can spend during election campaigns. The Election Commission by appointing observers keeps an eye on the individual account of election expenditure. The contestants are also required to give details of expenditure with 30 days of declaration of results. The Commission can issue an order for prohibition of publication and disseminating of results of opinion polls.