In a constitutional democracy, elections provide an opportunity to explore the will of the people in relation to the governance of the country. Elections are the process of electing a person to hold a public office through the free will of the people in a representative democracy.
Elections in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu were recently canceled on allegations of corruption, misuse of money, and muscle power. This is not an isolated incident; Many such incidents have taken place over the years. The growing greed for power turned a sacred act into a display of power.
What is the Election Commission of India (ECI)?
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous and permanent constitutional body responsible for holding free and fair elections in the Union and the States. The Constitution empowers the ECI to regulate, supervise and regulate elections to Parliament, State Assemblies, the Office of the President of India and the Office of the Vice President of India. The ECI is not concerned about elections to urban bodies such as municipalities and panchayats in the states, so there is a separate State Election Commission.
What is the concept of free and fair elections?
The concept of free and fair elections includes the initial stages of elections such as delimitation of constituencies, preparation of voter lists, amendments or amendments.
The idea of free and fair elections is primarily about political freedom and equality. In electoral matters it implies that in the electoral process, no one is enslaved and no choice is made under his personal rights, social and political freedom, free thought and legal discipline.
When a person exercises his or her right to vote, he or she is not under the undue influence of party discipline, religion, caste, creed, sex, or language, while not under pressure from corrupt behavior. Thus, free and fair elections are the foundation of a democratic state.
What are the Powers and Responsibilities of ECI?
The functions and powers of the Commission in relation to elections are divided into three categories (Administrative, Advisory and Quasi-Judicial). By extension, these powers are included
1) Determine the regional areas of constituencies across the country.
2) Preparation and amendment of voter list from time to time and registration of all eligible voters.
3) Inform the schedule and date of the election and check the nomination papers.
4) Recognize various political parties and give them election signs.
5) The Commission has advisory powers in case of disqualification of existing Members of Parliament and State Assemblies after elections.
6) It sets a code of conduct for political parties and candidates in elections, so that no one should engage in inappropriate behavior or unilateral abuse of power by those in power.
What is Growing Menace of Money Power?
Many of the negative features of our chosen landscape have deteriorated over time. Since the Model Code of Conduct came into force, this time in the first two phases, the power of money has been used very openly, with Rs 2,600 crore already seized in the form of unaccounted money, alcohol, bullion and drugs.
This is more than the amount seized in the nine phases of the 2014 general election. The most frustrating thing is that it contains a lot of drugs, most of which have been smuggled into Gujarat. Uttar Pradesh is intoxicated. More than Rs 514 crore was seized illegally.
These large sums of money intended to bribe or influence voters are only a fraction of the current illegal spending. A large portion has already been spent without the knowledge of the ECI or other regulatory authorities.
Political players have developed their methods and are ahead of ECI observers and vigilance teams in getting their funds to their destination before the election is announced.
What are the obstacles to Free and Fair Elections?
Electoral irregularities have taken on new forms in recent times. Voter bribery and media fraud have become a technology to intimidate voters and unjustly influence voters instead of seizing booths.
There has been an increase in the incidence of corruption in public life over time, in which politicians and bureaucrats have diverted available resources to personal use. Public money was misused and the moral and ethical atmosphere of the country was destroyed.
According to the Vohra Committee report, high-level criminalization of politics and corruption is destroying the structure and structure of our parliamentary democracy, political bureaucrats, the civil service, and the judiciary.
It is an accepted fact that in times of external support and coalition governments at the state and center levels, the people’s representatives in the legislatures and parliaments receive money to support a particular government. Thus, members of parliament or state legislatures became the commodity of sale, the subject of sale, purchase, or horse-trading.
Money is an important factor in elections because modern election campaign equipment is expensive. The availability of large sums of money usually increases the number of votes a candidate receives. This money is often in the path of counterfeit money, which is collected in a vicious and illegal manner.
Election bonds have proven to be counterproductive in enabling legal and transparent means of political financing. The Election Commission has admitted in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court order confirms that the full disclosure of the Election Commission has already effectively eliminated further funding on this route.
What are the recommended steps?
Any serious reforms regarding funding should come from the Election Commission itself and the Election Commission should convene a meeting of all stakeholders, of course, including all political parties recognized by the Center and the States. The best constitutional and legal minds of our country should be included in the list of those concerned.
The Election Commission must ensure that the Model Code of Conduct is strictly adhered to and that anyone found to be violating it must keep the maximum possible to prevent themselves from engaging in such activities in the future.
As the guardian of democracy, the media should follow ethical reporting of events that cover real issues affecting the people and should not engage in paid news and propaganda politics.
Parliament should consider the legal loopholes in the electoral law related to the entry of criminals into politics. Under Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the distinction between public offenders and existing member offenders must be removed.
The road ahead
The powers of the Election Commission are broad and omnipresent, extending beyond the powers of the Executive in all matters relating to elections during the election period. Honesty is the only thing left out of the officials responsible for providing an effective tool for making free and fair elections.
The ECII must act more prudently and remove doubts about its integrity as an active institution to ensure fairness and transparency in the general elections of this country.
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