Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra asked Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all states and Union Territories to expeditiously redress pending applications related to voter registration, even as he asked them to ensure better facilities at all booths in the country.
The CEC said this to the CEOs during a day-long conference held in New Delhi to review a host of issues related to the poll process in the country.
Election commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey also attended the conference and spoke to the officers.
Election Commission of India
• The Election Commission of India (EC) is a permanent independent constitutional body created under Article 324 of the Indian Constitution.
• The EC was set up on January 25, 1950, on the eve of India becoming a sovereign democratic republic with its headquarters in New Delhi.
• EC is vested with the powers and responsibilities of superintendence, direction and control of the entire process of preparation and revision of electoral rolls for, and conduct of, elections to the houses of Parliament and Legislatures of the states and the Union Territories and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President.
• Elections are conducted according to the constitutional provisions, supplemented by laws made by Parliament and rules and orders made thereunder. The major laws are:
• The Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952.
• The Representation of the People Act, 1950.
• The Representation of the People Act, 1951.
• EC prepares, maintains and periodically updates (new registration, modification and deletion as per guidelines) the electoral rolls, registers political parties/candidates, supervises the whole process of conducting election, monitors the election campaigns, including funding and expenditure of candidates, maintaining Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to make the entire electoral process free fair democratic and accessible for all its stakeholders.
Chief Electoral Officer of a state
At the state level, the election work is supervised, subject to overall superintendence, direction and control of the Commission, by the Chief Electoral Officer of the state, who is appointed by the Commission under section 13A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1950 from amongst senior civil servants proposed by the concerned state government.
He/she is, in most of the states, a full time officer and has a small team of supporting staff.
The election machinery in each state is headed by a Chief Electoral Officer.
The chief electoral officer of the state shall supervise the preparation and revision of all electoral rolls and conduct of elections in the state for the Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assembly.
At the district and constituency levels, the District Election Officers, Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers, who are assisted by a large number of junior functionaries, perform election work. They all perform their functions relating to elections in addition to their other responsibilities. During election time, however, they are available to the Commission, more or less, on a full time basis.
District Election Officer
The EC nominates an officer of the state government as the District Election Officer (DEO) in consultation with the state government. The District Election Officer is authorised to coordinate and supervise all work in the district or in the area within his jurisdiction in connection with the conduct of all elections to Parliament and the Legislature of the State subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the Chief Electoral Officer.
With the previous approval of the Election Commission, DEO provides a sufficient number of polling stations for every constituency, the whole or greater part of which lies within his jurisdiction, and publishes a list showing the polling stations so provided and the polling areas or groups of voters for which they have respectively been provided.
The Election Commission may nominate an Observer who shall be an officer of the government to watch the conduct of election or elections in a constituency or a group of constituencies. Earlier, the appointment of Observers was made under the plenary powers of the Commission.
But, with the amendments made to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in 1996, these are now statutory appointments. They report directly to the Commission.
The Observer has the power to direct the Returning Officer for the constituency or for any of the constituencies for which he has been nominated, to stop the counting of votes at any time before the declaration of the result or not to declare the result if in his opinion booth capturing has taken place. In case of stopping the counting of votes or non-declaration of result, a report shall be sent by the Observer to the EC, which issues appropriate directions.
The Election Commission of India nominates or designates an officer of the government or a local authority as the Returning Officer for each of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies in consultation with the state government/Union Territory administration. Same person can be appointed as the Returning Officer for more than one constituency. In addition, the Election Commission of India may appoint one or more Assistant Returning Officers for each of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies to assist the Returning Officer in the performance of his functions in connection with the conduct of elections. Every such person must be an officer of government or of a local authority.
Every Assistant Returning Officer, subject to the control of the Returning Officer, is competent to perform all or any of the functions of the Returning Officer, except functions which relate the scrutiny of nominations unless the Returning Officer is unavoidably prevented from performing the said function.
While Returning Officer may always include an Assistant Returning Officer in performing any function which he is authorized to perform him, it is the general duty of the Returning Officer at any election to do all such acts and things as may be necessary for effectually conducting the election in the manner provided by RPA, 1951 and rules or orders made thereunder.
The District Election Officer appoints a presiding officer for each polling station. Same person can be the presiding officer for more than one polling station in the same premises. It is the general duty of the presiding officer at a polling station to keep order and to see that the poll is fairly taken.
A Polling Officer performs all or any of the functions of a presiding officer based upon his direction. If a Polling Officer is absent from the polling station, the presiding officer may appoint any person who is present at the polling station other than a person who has been employed by or on behalf of, or has been otherwise working for, a candidate in or about the election, to be the polling officer during the absence of the former officer, and inform the District Election Officer accordingly. It is the duty of the Polling Officers at a polling station to assist the Presiding Officer for such station in the performance of his functions.