The Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949. Drafted by a committee led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, it took effect from January 26, 1950, and the date is celebrated as the Republic Day of India. India was declared as a democratic republic, with Dr. Rajendra Prasad becoming the first President of India. The first constitutional elections in India were held in 1952, in which the INC won by majority and India got its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The first Lok Sabha was formed and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was re-elected as the President of India.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is established constitutionally as an autonomous federal authority. The prime responsibility of the ECI is to administer and supervise all electoral processes under the Indian Constitution, maintaining the principles and rules ensuring free and fair polling.
The Chief Election Commissioner, appointed by the President of India, heads the commission. The President also appoints two Election Commissioners. According to Conditions of Service Rules 1992, salaries and allowances of the Chief Election Commissioner and the two Election Commissioners are at par with that of Judges of the Supreme Court of India. The Parliament of India can remove the Chief Election Commissioner on grounds of incapacity or misbehavior only if it attains support of two-third majority in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The President of India has the power to remove the two election commissioners on recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
In a democracy, the government is formed by people's representation. India is a democratic republic where governance is elected by people both centrally as well as regionally. In case of regional governance, i.e., state government, geographies are demarcated for appropriate representation of the people in various Vidhan Sabhas. For the central government, every state sends their representatives in the Lok Sabha by clubbing certain number of Vidhan Sabha constituencies to represent populace of such demography. Election is a process which allows people to exercise their right in choosing a representative either of specific political and economic ideals or independent personality by casting votes. Thus, election is required for representation by the people right from Gram Panchayat, Municipalities & Corporations, Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha, so that the whole country from village-level upwards is represented through a fair process.
If a candidate is found guilty of practicing the above, the court can annul his/her election even after being duly elected.
The four major types of elections held in India are:
General or Lok Sabha Elections: The General elections are held every 5 years. The candidates elected become Members of Parliament or MPs. The Lok Sabha has a maximum of 552 seats and currently there are 544 MPs in the house. The maximum number of seats can be altered if the parliament approves such an amendment. The party or coalition achieving majority in the house forms the government and chooses the Prime Minister. The candidate thus chosen must be a member of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. If he/she is not, then six months time is given for him/her to get elected to either of the houses.
Rajya Sabha Elections: Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Indian Parliament. There can be a maximum of 250 members, of which 12 are nominated by the President of India. These 12 members are generally renowned and knowledgeable personalities from different walks of life such as art, social service, science, literature or sports. The state and territorial legislatures representing 29 states and 2 Union Territories elect the rest of the members. Members are elected every six years with two-third retiring every two years. The two houses, namely the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, can meet to resolve any conflicting legislation between the two.
Election of the President: The President of India is officially the head of the judiciary, legislature and state of the Indian Republic. He is the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. He is indirectly elected by the people of India through Electoral College consisting of elected members of the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabhas and Vidhan Parishads and serves a term of five years. Re-election takes place if the incumbent resigns or in case of his/her death. Any Indian citizen who has attained 35 years of age and is qualified for Lok Sabha elections is an eligible candidate for the Presidential post. However, he should not hold any office of profit or a seat in parliament or state assembly.
State Assembly Elections: The Legislative or State Assembly elections are held in 29 states and 2 Union Territories out of the 7 Union Territories of India. The candidates elected become Members of the legislative assembly or Vidhan Sabha of the respective states. They are known as MLAs. The party or coalition holding majority in the state forms the government and chooses the Chief Minister of the state. The MLAs of the winning party hold different offices as ministers of state. The state assembly elections are held every 5 years.
In 2009, the Election Commission of India approached the Supreme Court to add a "None of the Above" or NOTA option to the ballot. A public interest litigation was filed by a non-governmental organization called People's Union for Civil Liberties in its support. Though the government opposed it, in September 2013, the Supreme Court passed an order to the Election Commission to implement the NOTA option on the voting machines. The Supreme Court is of the opinion that this application will increase participation of voters in elections. The bench, headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, passed the order, saying, "Democracy is all about choices and voters will be empowered by this right of negative voting".
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