The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act 1991

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The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act 1991 (Act No.11 of 1991) dated 25th January, 1991 was enacted with an aim and object to determine the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners and for connected matters. The Act originally named as Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Act, 1991, which was later amended to specifically deal with the powers, salary and allowances of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners which should be similar to the powers, salary, allowances and other perquisites payable to a Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. And by this amendment the Act was given the new name i.e. ‘The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991’. Further the Act provides for determination of case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners, by the Commission with majority.

The provisions from Section 3 to 8 of the Act provides for salary and other conditions of service of Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners and for connected matters.

Section 3 of the Act says that the Chief Election Commissioner should be paid equal to that of Judges of Supreme Court of India. Similarly, Election Commissioner are paid salary as per same section equal to the salary of Judges of High Courts.

Section 4 of the Act provides that the term of officer of Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner should be for six years or till he attains age of sixty five years, whichever earlier. Moreover, the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner can resign his office at any time by writing to President of India.

Section 5 of the Act makes provisions for leave to Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner, if any. Similarly, Section 6 of the Act specks of Pension to Election Commissioner and Chief Election Commissioner on his retirement from service of Government if such officer was in service immediately before his assuming the officer as Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner.

Article 324(5) of the Constitution of India specifies the independence of the Election Commission and also for its insulation from executive interference. The Chief Election Commissioner should not be removed from his office without following the manner under which and the ground on which the Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court removed. Similarly, the other Election Commissioners cannot be removed from office until the recommendation from the Chief Election Commissioner is made for such removal.

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Section 7 of the Act entitles Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner to subscribe to General Provident Fund of Central Government. Section 8 of the Act provides for other miscellaneous conditions of service of Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner including travelling allowances, provisions for rent-free residence and exemption from payment of Income-Tax, etc.

Moreover, Chapter III provides for Transaction of Business of Election Commission under Section 9 and 10 of the Act, wherein, Section 9 of the Act specks about transaction of business of Election Commission which is to be in accordance with the provisions of this Act as stated under this Section.

Finally, Section 10 of the Act makes provisions for disposal of business by Election Commission by unanimous decision. Section further requires Election commission to regulate transaction of its business its procedure, allocation amongst Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner.

The original Act was amended many times by different Amendment Acts of Parliament. The example of certain such Amendment Acts can be given of The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2003 which was enacted on 22nd March, 2003. This Amendment provides for options to those service voters belonging to the Armed Forces to vote through proxy.

Similarly, on 28th August, 2003, The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2003 was enacted providing for open ballot system. Such drastic changes are made by legislature to provide for proper and effective law regulating elections and also to provide for effective management thereof.

In the year 1995, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India upheld the validity of the Act by dismissing the challenged which was made before its Constitution Bench. As such judiciary also has played its part in carrying on the purposes of this Act.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan