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OCTOBER 25, 2012

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The Indian Constitution does not give the details of the election process. It prescribes only essential guidelines, the rest is left to legislation. In India, the general principle of elections is Universal Adult Franchise i.e. every citizen who is 18 + years of age is entitled to vote for Lok Sabha elections regardless of any consideration of caste, color, creed, sex, place of residence and the like (provided not disqualified otherwise on grounds of non-residence, crime, unsoundness of mind, corrupt or illegal practices).




Accordingly, the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and the Delimitation Commission Act, 1962 have been enacted, which describe the process to be followed in elections and the mode of formation of electoral constituencies. All electoral disputes connected with Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha elections are challengeable only in a High Court by an Election Petition, with an appeal to the Supreme Court while the disputes concerning any Presidential elections can be taken to the Supreme Court only.




The Constitution provides for an Election Commission consisting of a Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners as may be decided by the President (Art 324). The Election Commission has the duty of conducting, supervising and controlling the entire machinery and the procedure for elections to Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies, offices of President and Vice-President of India. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from his post only for proved misbehavior or incapacity.  The other Commissioners may be removed by the President on the Chief Election Commissioner’s recommendation.




The election process regarding the Lok Sabha elections is initiated on the Home Ministry’s recommendations. A specified period is given for filing nominations, which must be supported by at least 10 electors. A security deposit is also to be deposited with the Returning Officer of the constituency, which is forfeited if the candidate fails to get at least one-sixths of total valid votes polled. The results are declared by the Returning Officer of the constituency concerned. The results can, however, be withheld by the Election Commission in cases


1. where the constituency has been identified as communally sensitive


2. the victory margin between two topmost competing candidates is less than 5 percent of valid votes polled.



Recounting may be ordered in such cases by the Commission.





The Election Commission also performs the task of recognizing political parties. Around 43 recognized political parties exist in India, which may be of either type:



1. National parties which secure a minimum of 5% total votes in any previous Lok Sabha elections OR 5 percent votes in at least 4 State Assembly Elections e.g. the Congress, the BJP.


2. All other parties which do not fulfill the above criteria are classified as regional parties e.g. Akali Dal, Muslim League and Revolutionary Socialist Party.



Notably, the increase or decrease in the number of districts in any state has no impact on the number of Lok Sabha constituencies which is fixed by the Delimitation Commission. For instance, the current number of seats is based on the 1971 Census Report but all elections in future will be based on the delimitation of constituencies as recommended by the Delimitation Commmission, 2002.


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