Elections are important and a core part of a democratic society. It would be difficult to understand what people want and therefore holding elections is an essential part of a democratic society. People choose their representative from among themselves through elections. Therefore, it is important for them to know what elections are.
The term “election” is defined under Representation of People Act 1951 as follows: “Election means an election to fill a seat or seats either in the lower house of the Parliament or house of the legislature of the State. Therefore, the term “election” means to choose. Apart from the meaning of the word "Election" as stated above it may be defined as a process through which the authority of Government is clothed with legitimacy, peaceful and orderly transfer of power to new rulers is ensured and effective control by the people over the Government is exercised. The word “election” can be classified in two senses, narrow sense: it refers to the final selection of a candidate which may hold the result of polling when there is polling or a particular candidate or in case of no poll a candidate being returned unopposed. In a wide sense, it refers to the entire process reach a pinnacle wherein a candidate is declared elected, in other words, it includes the complete procedure of elections- the candidature, the withdrawals, the announcement of elections, the nomination of candidates, and finally a declaration of the results. In the Constitution of India, the word “election” has been used in a wider sense which includes the entire process of elections which starts with notification and ends with the declaration of result.
A framework of the Electoral System:
The framework of election laws is based on the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Constitution of India, the Representation of People Act 1950, the Representation of the People Act 1951 and Delimitation Act 1972.
Under the articles 52-71 of the Constitution of India deals with the manner of electing the President and the Vice- President. The structure and terms of both the houses i.e. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are laid down under article 80 and 83. The qualifications required of being a Member of Parliament is mentioned in Article 84 and they are as follows:
- Should be a citizen of India, and
- Minimum age of 25 years in case of Lok Sabha and 35 years in case of Rajya Sabha.
The disqualifications needed for the membership of Parliament as laid down under Article 102 of the Constitution of India and they are as follows:
- Voluntarily taking up citizenship of another country,
- In case the person has been declared to be of unsound mind by a competent court,
- Having profitable business dealing with the Government, and
- Being an undischarged insolvent.
No member can be a part of the Houses of Parliament or of the parliament and State Assembly is mentioned under Article 101.
Article 324 of the Constitution of India explains about the appointment and powers of the Election Commission of India. It has information like the composition of the Commission, should have Chief Election Commissioner along with a number of Commissioners.
Article 329 has the following provisions:
- It disallows the courts to question about the validity of any law in relation to allotment of seats or delimitation of constituencies.
- One can question the laws related to the election to parliament or State Legislature only through election petition presented to an authority provided by law i.e. the High Courts.
Reservation of seats for backward classes like Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes in the Parliament and State Assemblies are provided under Articles 330 to 334. Earlier, the reservations were made only up to 20 years from the commencement of the Constitution and it is being extended from time to time, last was extended in the year 2000.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951:
This is one of the most important legislation which acts as the nut and bolt aspects of an election. It contains information like qualification and disqualification for candidates, machinery for conducting elections, the power to order premises, vehicles, etc. by a government for election purposes, the process of counting the votes and declaration of results; disposal of election offences, suspension of the poll or revoking election registration of political parties etc.
The Indian Penal Code, 1860:
Actions such as promoting enmity etc. in the society on the grounds of religion, race, the ground of birth, language, etc. has been declared an offence under the Indian Penal Code 180 (IPC). There are few other offences like bribery (171B), illegal payments (171H), etc. which are penalised under the Act.
The main difference between corrupt practice and the electoral offence is that the latter attracts penalty in a criminal court and corrupt practice would lead to disqualification of a candidate from the elections.
Under Article 325 of the Indian Constitution of India are the provisions related to electoral rolls of every constituency irrespective of religion, caste, a race of an elector, however, there were separate electoral rolls for specific communities before enforcement of the Constitution in 1950. The provisions of Article 326 of the Constitution states that the electoral rolls must contain adult citizens only. It is statutorily required to revise the electoral rolls before general elections to the house of people. It is prepared with reference to the first day of the year. While preparing the electoral rolls the enumerators go on house visits, list down the number of eligible candidates and hands over a copy of enumeration card.
The revised rolls had 19,52,72,699 electors, 6.97 percent more than · on the eve of the preceding election in these states and Union Territories.
Q. What are the main categories of electors in India?
Ans. Basically, there is a total of three categories of electors in India, they are as follows:
- General Electors
- Overseas (NRI) Electors
- Service Electors
Q. A homeless person, who is otherwise eligible for registration as an elector, does not possess documentary proof of ordinary residence. What is the procedure of verification in such case?
Ans. In case of homeless people, the Booth level will be visiting the address mention in Form 6 in the night to make sure the person is homeless and sleeps at the same place mentioned in the form and visit may happen more than once to verify.
Q. I am a tenant and my landlord does not want me to get enrolled. How can I get enrolled as a voter?
Ans. To get yourself enrolled in the voter list, you should go online on the official website of Election Commission/ Chief Electoral Officer of the state / in the office of Electoral Registration Officer / Assistant Electoral Registration Officer and check the electoral roll of your area. And in case your name if not mention in the list, you should fill up Form 6 and submit it with the Electoral Registration Officer / Assistant Electoral Registration Officer / Booth Level Officer.