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India, after it gained its independence, was declared a sovereign, secular, socialist and democratic republic. The British ruled India from 1858 to 1947, after which India rode down the road of democracy. Therefore, the people in State Legislatures and in Parliament are elected by method of voting. But even in a democracy, laws are required to ensure the best representatives are elected for the proper governance of India. These laws ensure that the elections and the voting is fair and free for all eligible citizens. Furthermore, elections should be held in such an atmosphere that allows its citizens to exercise their right to vote according to their will.
Our government is based on the British Westminster system of parliament which is structured as follows:
Customised for the Indian small towns and rural areas, the Indian Government also has:
In order to conduct free and fair elections to the different posts of the country, there are three major requisites listed.
The Constitution of India has made provisions for all three of these requisites. India has an independent Election Commission which handles and controls the direction and superintendence of the electoral rolls. It also handles the conduct of elections to the offices of the President of India, Vice-President of India, and the elections to State Legislatures. In the event that any situation arises for which the laws that have been enacted by the Parliament have no provision or insufficient provision, the Election Commission is empowered to issue special directions and orders to deal with it.
A body similar to the Election Commission was formed as an independent constitutional authority to conduct elections to local bodies, panchayats and municipalities. The Election Commission issues directions and instructions in the form of compendia and handbooks for the following:
For the office of president, vice-president and state legislatures, the authority to enact laws remains with the Constitution in the Parliament of India. For the municipalities, panchayats and other local bodies, laws relating to the conduct of elections will be framed by the respective State Legislatures.
The redressal for any doubts and disputes arising out of the elections to the office of the President of India and the Vice-President of India lie with the Supreme Court.
For doubts and disputes arising out of elections to the offices of Parliament and State Legislatures, the High Court serves as the initial jurisdiction. There is a provision to appeal to the Supreme Court if needed.
For matters relating to the elections to municipalities and other local bodies, the lower courts are entrusted with resolving disputes in accordance with the laws enacted by the concerned State Government.
This order governs matters of reservation of election symbols for political parties at National and State levels. Election symbols serve as public recognition of the party. It serves the purpose of allotment of symbols to the various candidates who wish to stand for elections. This order also helps in the resolution of disputes between splinter groups.
Under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the Election Commission has the right to exercise its power in the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct. This Code is a unique document which helps guide political candidates and parties. The Model Code of Conduct was created by the political parties to ensure fair elections for all parties involved. It governs matters related to conduct and the maintenance of a level playing field throughout the elections. It also provides for rules against the misuse of official machinery and power by the ruling party to ensure that they do not unfairly further the electoral prospects of their own candidates.
The Acts and Rules listed above empower the Election Commission to issue directives to deal with different aspects involved with the preparation of electoral rolls, its revision and the actual conduct of elections. All grievance related to the elections will have to be resolved under the Representation of the People Acts 1950 and 1951, and the Registration of Electors Rules 1960 and Conduct of Elections Rules 1961. These Acts and Rules form a complete set of rules and a code for all matters relating to the elections to the State Legislatures and Houses of Parliament.
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