A.P. High Court stays gram panchayat elections
Judge suspends SEC order for polls in February ‘in the interest of public health
State Election Commissions (SECs)
- The State Election Commission has the duty to conduct free, fair and impartial elections to the local bodies in the states.
- Article 243K(1): The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Panchayats (Municipalities under Article 243ZA) shall be vested in a State Election Commission.
- The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.
Challenges With Functioning of Election Commission Institution
- Lack of Autonomy: Although the state election persists to exercise its duties enshrined in the constitution of India, they struggled to assert their independence.
- Lack of Safeguard for SEC: Though the State Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his/her office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of a High Court (Art 243K(2)), yet it has been diluted on many instances.
- Non Uniform Service Conditions for SECs: Article 243K(2) states that the tenure and appointment will be directed as per the law made by the state legislature and thus each SEC is governed by a separate state Act.
- This gives power to states to amend rules unilaterally and even sometimes take ordinance routes to bypass legislative scrutiny like the recent example of Andhra Pradesh SEC.
- Article 243K(2): It states that the tenure and appointment will be directed as per the law made by the state legislature. However, State Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his/her office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of a High Court.