Election Commission Of India (ECI)

Why is it in News?

The dates for the General Elections 2019 have been announced by the ECI.

About ECI:

ECI is an autonomous, constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. Article 324 of the Indian Constitution deals with ECI.

Appointment & Tenure:

  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners. CEC has tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • At present, the ECI is a three member body including the Chief Election Commissioner.

Salary & Allowances:

  • The expenditure incurred by the ECI is not charged on Consolidated Fund of India (as in case of CAG or Supreme Court); rather it is voted by the parliament.
  • Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC) enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.

What happens if there is a Difference of Opinion on any Issue between CEC & ECs?

It must be kept in mind that there is no provision of Veto for CEC; the decision is taken by the majority of votes.

Is there any Provision available for Removal of CEC/EC?

  • CEC can be impeached in the same way as the judges of Supreme Court, i.e. he can be impeached by a special majority in both the houses of Parliament.
  • ECs can be removed by the President (no impeachment is required for ECs) on the recommendations of CEC.

What are the ways by which ECI can be made Sturdier and Robust in its Functioning?

  • The expenditure incurred by ECI is not charged on Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), rather it is voted by the Parliament which leads to conflict of interest as it has to depend on the government for its budget. The best way to provide more teeth to ECI is to charge its expenditure on CFI.
  • There is no qualification prescribed for the post of CEC/ ECs, due to which it has become the sweet spot to oblige the pliant retired bureaucrats by the government. The need of the hour is to prescribe the qualification for the posts.

Source: TH

Model Code Of Conduct (MCC)

Why is it in News?

Due to the coming General Elections, Election Commission of India (ECI) has convened an all party meeting to discuss the MCC.

Aim of MCC:

  • It aims to provide a level playing field to all the contestants of the election.

Historical Background of MCC:

  • In 1960, the State Administration of Kerala decided that they will neither use state machinery during elections nor will resort to any activity that will amount to bribing. Seeing this, ECI thought that this model of moral behaviour during elections can be replicated on an all India basis and ECI first implemented this model during the 1979 elections.
  • This MCC document was revised and got its present form under the stewardship of then ECI chairman Shri T.N.Seshan.

What is MCC?

  • The model code refers to a set of norms laid down by the Election Commission of India, with the consensus of political parties.
  • It is not statutory. It spells out the dos and don’ts for elections. Political parties, candidates and polling agents are expected to observe the norms, on matters ranging from the content of election manifestos, speeches and processions, to general conduct, so that free and fair elections take place.

When is the MCC enforced?

The code comes into force on the announcement of the poll schedule and remains operational till the election results are declared.

What are Provisions under MCC?

  • No appeals shall be made to vote on the basis of caste, religion etc.
  • Ministers shall not combine their official visit with election visit.
  • No new policy shall be announced.
  • No personal attacks shall be made; criticism shall be done on policies etc.

If MCC has no Legal Backing then how does it enforce its Provisions?

  • Say, a person asks for a vote on the basis of religion or caste, then this act is dealt with the provisions mentioned in the Representation of People Act 1951. Act of bribery is dealt with the provisions under IPC etc.
  • But if the government announces a new scheme, then there is no tool available with the ECI to curtail that move as it does not having any legal backing in such a case. Seeing this, some experts believe that provisions of MCC are enforced by Moral Authority of Leaders and hence sometimes it is called as the Moral Code of Conduct.

Is Legal Backing to MCC Need of the Hour?

  • Undoubtedly, legal backing will provide more teeth to ECI in enforcing the provisions of MCC, but at the same time it will delay the whole process as matters will start going to the courts.
  • Thus after 2012, ECI has stopped asking for legal backing for MCC.

Source: TH