TAG: GS 2: POLITY
THE CONTEXT: As the 2024 Parliamentary elections draw closer, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has introduced revised rules pertaining to the allocation of common symbols for both Registered and Unregistered Political Parties (RUPPs).
- These new regulations come with certain stipulations aimed at streamlining the process of symbol allocation.
Eligibility Criteria for Common Symbol Allotment
- The ECI’s announcement highlighted specific criteria for RUPPs to qualify for the concession of common symbol allotment.
- Parties falling under this category need to fulfill several conditions, including the submission of contribution reports, audited annual accounts for the last three financial years, and election expenditure statements for their two most recent contested elections.
- Fulfilling these requirements renders such parties eligible for the common symbol allotment.
Application Process and Compliance
- The Commission emphasized that RUPPs seeking common symbols are required to submit applications using the prescribed proforma provided by the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968.
- These guidelines serve as the foundational framework governing the allocation of symbols, ensuring adherence to standardized procedures.
Definition of Registered and Unregistered Political Parties (RUPPs)
- RUPPs encompass several categories, such as newly registered parties, political groups that haven’t attained a specific vote percentage or national/state party recognition through general elections, or those that haven’t participated in elections since their registration.
- Such parties fall under the umbrella of RUPPs and are subject to the revised rules for symbol allocation.
Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968:
- This order deals with various aspects of symbol allotment to political parties for elections.
- Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, EC can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.
- The EC is the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger under the order. The Supreme Court (SC) upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.
- It applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties.
- For splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.
- In almost all disputes decided by the EC so far, a clear majority of party delegates/office bearers, MPs and MLAs have supported one of the factions.
- Before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
- The splinter group of the party – other than the group that got the party symbol – had to register itself as a separate party.
Election Commission of India
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950 (celebrated as national voters’ day). The secretariat of the commission is in New Delhi.
- The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- It is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.
- Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution: It deals with elections and establishes a commission for these matters.
- Article 324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
- Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll-on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
- Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be based on adult suffrage.
- Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
- Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
- Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.
Conclusion: Facilitating Fair and Transparent Elections
- The Election Commission’s revision of rules for party symbol allocation aims to introduce a more structured and transparent process, ensuring that political parties meet specific criteria to qualify for common symbol allotment.
- By setting stringent eligibility parameters and enforcing standardized application procedures, the ECI seeks to promote fairness and equity in the allocation of symbols.
- It will contribute to the smooth conduct of elections in accordance with established norms and regulations.