July 18, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

DECIDING HOUSE TERMS AND POLL SCHEDULES: INSIGHTS AND PROCEDURES

TAG: GS 2: POLITY

THE CONTEXT: The Election Commission of India (ECI) plays a pivotal role in organizing and overseeing electoral processes across the country. This includes determining the schedules for elections to legislative bodies such as state assemblies and the Lok Sabha (House of the People).

EXPLANATION:

  • Understanding how these schedules are decided and how the terms of legislative bodies are regulated provides insights into the constitutional framework and operational aspects of the electoral process.

Constitutional Framework:

  • As per the Constitution of India, both state assemblies and the Lok Sabha have fixed terms of five years from their first sitting.
  • Article 172(1) specifies the duration of state legislative assemblies, while Article 83(2) outlines the tenure of the Lok Sabha.
  • In exceptional circumstances such as a Proclamation of Emergency, the term of legislative bodies may be extended by Parliament, but such extensions cannot exceed one year at a time and cannot extend beyond six months after the Emergency ceases.

Application to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim:

  • The existing assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim convened their first sittings on June 3, 2019.
  • Therefore, their terms are scheduled to end on June 2, 2024, as per the constitutional provisions.
  • The Election Commission adjusted the date of counting for assembly elections in these states from June 4 to June 2 to ensure that the electoral process concludes before the expiry of the assembly terms.
  • This adjustment aligns with the constitutional mandate to complete elections before the dissolution of the legislative bodies.

Factors Considered by the ECI in Fixing Election Schedules:

  • The primary consideration for the ECI is the date of expiry of the term of the legislature.
  • The commission aims to complete the election process at least one day before the term ends, ensuring a smooth transition to the new assembly or parliament.
  • The ECI takes into account various logistical factors such as weather conditions, festivals, and the availability of infrastructure (e.g., school buildings for polling stations) and personnel (e.g., teachers for election duty).
  • These considerations ensure efficient conduct of elections across diverse geographical and cultural contexts.
  • Understanding the historical and geographic landscape of the region is crucial for planning election schedules.
  • Factors such as historical voting patterns, regional festivals, and security requirements influence the timing and logistics of elections.

Previous Instances and Flexibility:

  • While adjustments to election schedules are uncommon, the ECI has occasionally made changes to accommodate specific circumstances.
  • For example, in 2004, the counting date for elections in Andhra Pradesh was rescheduled to May 11 to avoid coinciding with the end of the assembly term on May 13.
  • The ECI demonstrates flexibility in addressing local sensitivities and preferences.
  • For instance, in Mizoram, the counting date was shifted from December 3 to December 4, respecting the significance of Sundays for the predominantly Christian population.

Model Code of Conduct:

  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of guidelines established by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to regulate the behavior of political parties and candidates during elections.
  • It serves to ensure fair and ethical practices in electoral processes and prevent the misuse of government resources for partisan gains.
  • The MCC comprises a comprehensive set of provisions covering various aspects of electioneering:
    • General Conduct: Political parties and candidates are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that upholds the integrity of the electoral process and fosters a fair and level playing field.
    • Campaign Activities: Restrictions are imposed on activities such as rallies, processions, and public meetings to maintain order and prevent disruptions.
    • Use of Government Resources: The MCC prohibits the use of official government machinery, resources, and media for election campaigning to prevent undue advantage to the ruling party.
    • Advertisement and Publicity: Parties are barred from advertising at the expense of public funds and using government-sponsored advertisements to influence voter behavior.
    • Equitable Treatment: The MCC mandates equitable treatment of political parties in terms of access to public facilities and resources for campaign purposes.
    • Content of Campaigns: Campaigns should focus on the performance and record of political parties and candidates, without resorting to divisive tactics based on caste, religion, or other communal sentiments.
    • Election Silence: A 48-hour ‘election silence’ period is enforced before polling day to allow voters a campaign-free environment for reflection.

SOURCE: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/how-house-terms-and-poll-schedules-are-decided-9223451/

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