Elections in India: Overview

Democracy is one of India’s constitutional foundations, an inalienable, fundamental characteristic of its socio-political fabric. The concept of democracy as visualized by the Constitution pre-supposes the existence of free and fair elections, designed to ensure the representation of the will of the people in its legislative decision-making process.

In order to ensure the purity of the election process, the drafters of the Indian Constitution entrusted the responsibility of conducting free and fair elections to an independent body, which would be insulated from political and executive interference, i.e., the Election Commission of India [ECI], a permanent authority under Art. 324 of the Indian Constitution. Article 326 of the Indian Constitution provides for elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage, thereby securing the right to vote for Indian citizens who are not less than 18 years of age and not disqualified under The Representation of The People Act, 1951.

The rule of law must prevail for a democracy to enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the people as well as the international community. To this end, India has seen the constant evolution of election laws in India, safeguarding the electoral process from the perils of bias. From the 1974 Justice V.M. Tarkunde Committee to the various electoral reforms in the last decade, the Indian electoral process has benefitted from critical legal and socio-political scholarship. This combined with the recurrent incorporation of emerging technologies into the electoral fabric has made India an exemplary democracy, one which boasts of close to 912 million active voters (more than 67% of which participated in the 2019 general elections), the largest in any democratic process in the world. The proper and efficient functioning of the democratic systems depends on the wide knowledge and publicity of the electoral system, election laws and procedure. The importance of the electoral process in ensuring the sustainability of our constitutional principles, makes it increasingly pertinent for continued legal discourse on this dynamic and ever-changing field of law.

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