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Election Commission observers

Election Commission observers


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: EC observers- appointment, roles and functions.


Context: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Election Commission, the West Bengal government and others on a plea challenging the appointment of two retired bureaucrats as special observer and Central police observer in the State for the ongoing Lok Sabha election.

Who are EC observers?

The observers are drawn from various central services, such as the Indian Revenue Service, the Indian Administrative Service, and the Indian Police Service. They are considered to be on EC duty till the elections process ends.



  • Observers of the Election Commission of India (ECI) are appointed under the powers conferred on it by Section 20B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the plenary powers available to the Commission under the Constitution of India.
  • They are the appointees of the Commission working under the superintendence, control and discipline of the Commission for the period from their appointment until the process of election is completed.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 was amended in August 1996 to add a new Section 20B. This provides statutory powers to the Observers to watch the conduct of elections and especially in respect of counting of votes.


Roles and duties:

  • The General and Police Observers are expected to assist the Commission in the conduct of free and fair polls.
  • They also oversee the efficient and effective management of the electoral process at the field level.
  • For all purposes, they act as the eyes and ears of the Commission during the period of the election and provide direct inputs to the Commission from the field as an interface with the election machinery the candidates, political parties, and electors to ensure that the Acts, rules, procedures, instructions and guidelines related to elections are strictly and impartially complied with by all concerned.


Sources: the hindu.