ELECTION COMMISSION, AMUL, INFOSYS, AADHAAR, ZEE, RELIANCE POLYESTER, KHADI GRAM UDYOG, BCCI, TCS, STATE BANK OF INDIA, HDFC, BALAJI TELEFILMS
The Election Commission of India is regarded as the guardian of free and fair elections. Over the years, it has grown from being just a constitutional rubber stamp with little or no power to regulate electoral malpractices to one of the most respected and feared constitutional bodies. Reforms introduced by the EC over the decades—model code of conduct, ceiling on poll expenses, voter identity cards, electronic voting machines, and the recent NOTA (none of the above) option in EVMs—have all changed for the better the way we choose our representatives. The watershed moment in electoral activism in India was the tenure of T.N. Seshan, chief election commissioner between 1991 and 1996. Seshan took on the political class with unprecedented poll reforms. There’s still more to do. As former CEC S.Y. Quraishi says, “The EC must be entrusted with powers to punish political parties (including de-registration) that commit a major violation of their oath or indulge in wilful disobedience of the lawful orders, such as not submitting accounts and audit reports, not conducting internal party elections and persistently violating the model code of conduct.”
In the beginning, the EC had only the chief election commissioner. Two more election commissioners were appointed by the President of India on October 16, 1989, to help the EC cope with the increased workload on account of lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years. The concept of two election commissioners was dropped in January 1990, but Parliament passed a law in 1991 to revive it. Of late, the EC has sought to empower itself to punish anyone ‘disobedient and discourteous’ towards its authority. It has proposed that the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, cover the EC and its commissioners. Many experts feel the biggest reform needed is in the selection of commissioners, who are appointed by the government.