What to study?
For prelims: A 324 and features.
For mains: Issues surrounding the credibility of EC.
Context: The Election Commission of India has passed an unprecedented order ending the campaign in West Bengal. It also removed the state’s Home Secretary, and a senior police officer.
The decisions were taken under Article 324 of the Constitution, in response to street violence in Kolkata between cadres of two political parties.
What Article 324 and RPA say on this?
Article 324 vests “in an Election Commission” the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”.
Parliament enacted The RP Act of 1950 and 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission.
The RP Amendment Act, 1988 (Act 1 of 1989) introduced Section 28A in the RP Act of 1951, which said that all officers deployed for the conduct of an election shall be deemed to be on deputation to the EC. This should be from the notification of the election to the declaration of the results, and such officers shall, during that period, be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the EC.
Ambedkar introduced the Article 324 on June 15, 1949, saying the whole election machinery should be in the hands of a Central EC, which alone would be entitled to issue directives to returning officers, polling officers and others.
Need for and significance of A 324:
Mohinder Singh Gill vs The CEC, New Delhi and Others (1977): The Court held that Article 324 “operates in areas left unoccupied by legislation and the words ‘superintendence, direction and control’ as well as ‘conduct of all elections’ are the broadest terms”. The Constitution has not defined these terms.
Article 324 is a plenary provision vesting the whole responsibility for national and State elections in the ECI and therefore, the necessary powers to discharge that function.
Comprehensive provision in Art. 324 is necessary to take care of surprise situations.