state election

State Election Commission |Latest Current Affairs, Burning Issues

State Election Commission

• standoff between the Bengal SES and BJP over the withdrawal of a notification
that had extended the last date of nominations in panchayat polls.
• Supervision and conduct of elections are entrusted with two constitutional
authorities — the Election Commission (EC) of India and the State Election
Commissions (SECs).
• Set up in 1950, the EC is charged with the responsibility of conducting polls to the
offices of the President and Vice President of India, to Parliament, and to the state
Assemblies and Legislative Councils.
• The SECs, which were appointed in each state, supervise municipal and panchayat elections.
• they are independent of each other and draw powers from different laws.
• The SEC in Bengal draws it powers from the West Bengal State Election Commission Act, 1994.
• It has nothing to do with the Representation of the People Act, which lays down the EC’s powers.

Each SEC is governed by a separate state Act.

• Under the Constitution, establishment of local self government institutions is the responsibility of the
states (entry 5, List II, Seventh Schedule).. The Constitution was amended in 1992 to define the
term (five years) for these institutions.
• provision was made for setting up a constitutional authority, the SEC, on the lines of the EC to
conduct regular panchayat elections.
• The SEC was to be appointed by the respective state governments.
• The provisions of Article 243K of the Constitution, which provides for setting up of SECs, are almost identical to those of Article 324 related to the EC.
• the SECs enjoy the same status as the EC. For example, like the removal of a Chief Election
Commissioner, the State Election Commissioner can only be removed via impeachment.
• In 2006, the Supreme Court emphasised the two constitutional authorities enjoy the same powers. .
• Courts cannot interfere in the conduct of poll to local bodies and self-government
institutions once the electoral process has been set in motion.
• Article 243-O of the Constitution bars interference in poll matters set in motion by
the SECs.
• Article 329 bars interference in such matters
set in motion by the EC.
• This powers enjoyed by the SECs are the
same as those by the EC.

How far do the SEC and EC collaborate for an election?

• They operate independently.
• In fact, in a letter to all states in 1996, the EC had clarified that its chief electoral officers, who
represent the EC in each state, should not be entrusted with any work related to preparation of
electoral rolls for municipal or panchayat polls.
• The EC, however, has shared its electoral rolls with the SECs in the past.
• Initially it would also lend its electronic voting machines to SECs for municipal polls, until the
latter bought their own. But this is where the cooperation ends. The EC has no role in the actual
conduct of local body elections.

HOW to empower state election commission?

• Ensuring independence.
• Staff to be trained.
• ECI to look into the working of SEC.