Elections in India
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Elections in India – Indian Polity Notes

Elections in India is testimony of vibrancy of our democracy. It ensures, common people who are real sovereign of the country, exercise their right to vote and choose the representatives who will in turn address the questions of his constituents. This also allows the masses to exercise their political rights and brings sense of ownership over the Government of the day. 

These elections also ensure there is peaceful transition of power, which characteristic features of a mature democracy, this peaceful transition has taken place 17 times with each general elections.

Features of Indian Elections:

  1. India has accepted Multi Party System wherein multiple recognise national parties and state parties contest elections.
  2. There is independent constitutional body to oversee the conduct of elections called as ‘Election Commission of India’.
  3. Election is now conducted using electronic machines called as Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) which generates Voter Verified Paper Trail Audit (VVPAT) through which voter can verify their votes are given to desired candidate.
  4. Election results are declared with accuracy and in short span of time unlike Western Countries like US where it takes weeks to count and verify ballots.
  5. The Commission also under take massive electoral enrolment campaign and voter awareness programmes.
  6. There is model code of conduct.
  7. Observers are appointed to ensure rules regarding elections are followed in latter and spirit.
  8. Peaceful transition of power.

Voting System:

In India two voting systems are used:

First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) System:

The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system is also known as the simple majority system. In this voting method, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner. This system is used in India in direct elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. While FPTP is relatively simple, it does not always allow for a truly representative mandate, as the candidate could win despite securing less than half the votes in a contest.

Proportion Representation:

In India this voting system is used for election to Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Councils.

In which the elected representatives of people (MLAs in case of Rajya Sabha and Members of Local Self Government Bodies in case of State Legislative Councils) chose the candidate using single transferrable vote.

Voting Age:

The constituent assembly has envisaged universal adult suffrage to all citizens who are of age 21 years and above. 

But 61st Amendment Act, reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years.

Education as Qualifications for Contesting Election:

Presently there is no educational criteria for contesting elections to Parliament or State Legislature. Though there are some state who have enacted laws wherein they have prescribed minimum education qualification for Panchayat Raj Institutions posts like Sarpanchs etc. These laws and minimum educational qualification is not uniform across India.

If we look onto the wisdom of our Constituent Assembly especially of Chairman of its Drafting Committee Dr B R Ambedkar, who have earned many degrees more than his colleagues of that time and even present day MPs. He held education cannot be set as criteria. He held this view when he appeared before Simon Commission.

In his memorandum to the Simon Commission (1928), he declared: “Those who insist on literacy as a test and insist upon making it a condition precedent to enfranchisement in my opinion, commit two mistakes. Their first mistake consists in their belief that an illiterate person is necessarily an unintelligent person… Their second mistake lies in supposing that literacy necessarily imports a higher level of intelligence or knowledge than what the illiterate possesses”.

Section 8(4) of RPA 1950:

Section 8(4) allowed convicted MPs, MLAs and MLCs to continue in their posts, provided they appealed against their conviction/sentence in higher courts within 3 months of the date of judgment by the trial court.

The Supreme Court In July 2013 in Lilly Thomas vs Union of India Case, struck down section 8(4) of the RPA, 1951 and declared it ultra vires and held that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction.

Criminalisation of Politics:

Term Criminalisation of politics pertains to increased number of people with criminal history getting elected to Parliament and State Legislature. For effective functioning of government it is imperative that people with zeal to do public service enter into politics rather than those criminals who enter exploit loopholes in system and benefits form it.

Reason why this Criminalisation of politics exists in India:

  1. Corruption: candidates with criminal cases have more changes to win than normal candidates. That’s why parties field such candidates.
  2. Vote Bank: Citizenry turns into vote banks which can be influenced by giving monetary and other incentives to vote. In such cases, criminals use their illegitimate money to influence voters.
  3. Denial of Justice and Rule of Law: There is absence to strong law which will bar those with serious criminal charges which allows them to contest elections.
  4. Poor Governance: When state machinery denies the basic civil rights, citizenry turns towards these criminals who have been elected. With their money and muscle power they get such petty things done easily which would have taken longer.
  5. Scare Resources of State: State doesn’t have adequate resources to provide for needs to its citizens further it’s marred with Corruption. Citizens think these criminals/ Strongman can resolve their issues.
  6. Immemorial time taken by Court: Courts often take decades to decide on cases of such strongman.

Measures to reduce Criminalisation of Politics:

  1. Political parties shall deny them tickets.
  2. Representation of People Act 1951 shall be amended to give it more teeth.
  3. Election Commission of India shall be given powers to audit accounts of political parties.
  4. Political parties shall be brought under ambit of RTI Act 2005.
  5. Fast Track Court shall be established to deal with cases of Criminalisation of politics.

Constitutional Provisions:

Articles 324 to 329 in Part XV deals with provisions relating to the electoral system.

Article Description 
Article 324Election Commission 
Article 325General Roll for territorial constituencies 
Article 326Universal Adult Franchise 
Article 327Power of Parliament to make laws relating Elections to State Legislature 
Article 328Power of State Legislature to make laws relating to Election to such legislature.
Article 329Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.


1. Representation of the People Act 1950:

This act makes following provisions:

  • Allocation of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
  • Delimitation of Parliamentary, Assembly and Council constituencies.
  • Election officers like chief electoral officers, district election officials etc. 
  • Electoral rolls for Parliamentary, Assembly and Council elections.
  • Manner of filling seats in the Rajya Sabha to be filled by representatives of union territories.
  • Local authorities for purposes of the State Legislative Council.
  • Barring the jurisdiction of civil courts.

2. Representation of the People Act 1951:

This Act contains following provisions relating to the electoral matters:

  1. Qualifications and disqualification for membership of parliament and state legislature.
  2. Notification of general elections
  3. Administrative machinery for conduct of elections.
  4. Registration of political parties
  5. Conduct of elections
  6. Free supply of certain materials to candidates for recognised political parties.
  7. Disputes regarding elections.
  8. Corrupt practices and electoral offences
  9. Powers of Election Commission in connection with inquiries as to disqualification of members.
  10. Bye-election and time limit for filling vacancies.
  11. Miscellaneous provisions
  12. Barring jurisdiction of civil court 

3. Prevention of Disqualification Act 1959:

Declared that certain offices of profit under the Government shall not disqualify the holders thereof being chosen as Members of Parliament.

4. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Order Amendment Act 1976:

Provides for inclusion in and exclusion from the list of SC and ST of certain castes and tribes for readjustment of representation of parliamentary and assembly constituencies.

5. Government of Union Territories Act 1963

6. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act 1961.

7. Presidential and Vice Presidential Act 1952.


  1. Registration of Electoral Rules 1960: For preparation & publication of electoral rolls.
  2. Conduct of Elections Rules 1961: For conduct of free and fair elections to Parliament and State Legislature.
  3. Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules 1950
  4. Members of Lok Sabha (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules 1985
  5. Members of Rajya Sabha (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules 1985
  6. Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Rules 1974
  7. Members of Lok Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Rule 2004
  8. Members of Rajya Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Rule 2004.

Political Parties:

Political Parties are association or groups of individuals who share same political ideology and tries to gain political power by constitutional means.

Election Reforms:

Following reforms were undertaken by the Election Commission:

  1. Restrictions on exist polls drying period notified by the ECI.
  2. Time limit for submitting a case for disqualification of candidates on grounds of corrupt practices.
  3. All officials included in corrupt practices, whether government or not, appointed or deputed by ECI in connection with the election.
  4. Increase in security deposit to check multiplicity of non-serious candidates.
  5. Appellate authority within District: Against order of electoral registration officer appeal lies with  District Collector.
  6. Voting rights granted to citizens living outside India using  postal ballot.
  7. Online enrolment in electoral roll.
  8. NOTA option introduced.
  9. Introduction of Voter Verified Paper Trail Audit (VVPAT) through which voter can verify their votes are given to desired candidate.
  10. Immediate disqualification of convicted MLAs and MPs.
  11. Ceiling on Cash Donations.
  12. Introduction of electoral bonds.

Anti Defection Law:

Also known as Tenth Schedule it was added by 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act 1985 which added clauses in articles 102(2) and 191(2).

It includes the provisions as to disqualification on grounds of defection:

Grounds for elected members:

  1. Voluntary resignation form party membership
  2. Vote/Abstains contrary to party whip
  3. If someone after being elected from one party joins another political party after elections.

Grounds for Nominated Members

Nominated member of house shall be disqualified from being member of house if he joins any political party after expiry of 6 months from the date on which he takes oath.

It no longer protects splits in political parties and presently mergers are only protected.

Under this tenth schedule, Speaker of House has ultimate authority to decide on disqualification of members. Once he gives decision, his decision is subject to judicial review.

Pressure Groups:

Pressure Groups is a group of people who are organized actively for promoting, defending their common interest. The term pressure group is used for the group which attempts to bring change in the public policy by exerting pressure on the government.

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