This article is in continuation of the last one on Representation of People’s Act 1951. The article will talk about administrative machinery for conducting elections in India.
Section 19 to 29 of part IV of the Act deals with administrative machinery for the conduct of elections
It provides for the following officers for conducting elections:National level – Election Commission of IndiaState level- Chief Electoral Officer District level – District Election Officer Constituency level – Returning Officer Poll booth level – Presiding Officer assisted by polling officerVigilance – Election observers
1. Deputy Election Commissioner or the Secretary to EC:
The functions of the Election Commission (EC) under the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and this Act will be performed also by a Deputy Election Commissioner or by the Secretary to the Election Commission.
2. Chief Electoral Officers Subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission, the Chief Electoral Officer of each State shall supervise the conduct of all elections in the State under this Act.
3. District Election Officer Subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the chief electoral officer, the district Election Officer shall coordinate and supervise all work in the district or in the area within his/her jurisdiction in connection with the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the Legislature of the State. The district election officer shall also perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him/her by the Election Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer.The district election officer shall, with the previous approval of the Election Commission, provide a sufficient number of polling stations for every constituency. The district election officer shall publish in a such manner as the Election Commission may direct, a list showing the polling stations so provided and the polling areas or groups of voters for which they have respectively been provided.
4. Observers The Election Commission may nominate an observer who shall be an officer of government to watch the conduct of election or elections in a constituency or a group of constituencies and to perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him/her by the Election Commission.An ‘Observer’ shall include a Regional Commissioner or any such officer of the Election Commission assigned the duty of watching the conduct of election The Observer shall have the power to direct the returning officer for the constituency or for any of the constituencies for which he/she has been nominated, to:
– stop the counting of votes at any time before the declaration of the result or – not to declare the result
The Observer shall report to the Election Commission on the directives given to the Returning Officer.
5. Returning officers For every constituency, for every election to fill a seat or seats in the Council of States and for every election by the members of the Legislative Assembly of a State to fill a seat or seats in the Legislative Council of the State, the Election Commission shall, in consultation with the government of the State, designate or nominate a returning officer who shall be an officer of Government or of a local authority.The Election Commission may designate the same person to be the returning officer for more than one constituencyIt shall be the general duty of the Returning Officer at any election to do all such duties as may be necessary for effectively conducting the election in the manner provided by the Act and rules or orders made thereunder
6. Assistant Returning Officers The Election Commission may appoint one or more persons who is an officer of government or of a local authority to assist any returning officer in the performance of his/her functions. Every assistant returning officer shall, subject to the control of the returning officer, be competent to perform all or any of the functions of the Returning Officer.
7. Presiding Officers The district Election Officer shall appoint a Presiding Officer for each polling station and such polling officer or officers as he/she thinks necessary, but he/she shall not appoint any person who has been employed by or on behalf of, or has been otherwise working for, a candidate in or about the election. The same person can be appointed as presiding officer for more than one both.
8. Polling Officer It shall be the duty of the polling officers at a polling station to assist the presiding officer for such station in the performance of his functions.
The Returning Officer, Assistant Returning Officer, Presiding Officer, Polling Officer, and any other officer and any police officer designated for the time being by the State Government, for the conduct of any election shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission. The deputation period commences from the date of the notification calling for such election and ending with the date of declaration of the results of such election and accordingly, such officers shall, during that period, be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission.
To be continued