On May 17th, 2021 the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the current appointment practices of the Election Commission of India. This petition came amidst criticisms of the ECI's handling of assembly elections. We are tracking a series of cases around elections and electoral democracy including Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India and the ADR challenge.
In this set of must-reads, we curate writings that examine the practices of the Election Commission in recent times and its interaction with the Courts.
Source: Al Jazeera English
Aarati Ranade in The Wire wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision in Abhiram Singh v. C.D. Commachen from 2017 where appeals to the religion of both the candidate and the voter were held to be violative of Section 123(3) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. In her piece, she argues that the minority opinion authored by Justice Chandrachud conflates the issues of “accounting” for identities to eliminate injustice and “appealing” to identities for electoral gain. She also questions whether the majority decision stands negated in light of the Electoral Commission not implementing the ruling and a lack of voter awareness.
2. The Biased Referee: Why the Election Commission’s neutrality is in doubt
Seema Chishti writing for the Caravan argues that the Election Commission has had a recent history of displaying partisan behaviour and this has resulted in an erosion of credibility. She draws attention to the alleged discrepancies in voter turnout data posted by the Commission and the petition filed by ADR in November 2019 asking the court to look into these discrepancies.
3. Election Commission divided: One EC objects to panel asking court for gag order on media
Ritika Chopra reported for the Indian Express that there was an internal conflict in the Election Commission. She reported that one of the Commissioners strongly objected to the plea in the Madras High Court seeking a media gag when it came to oral observations by judges, as well as the SLP filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions against such comments like the “murder charges” comment from a judge in the Madras High Court.
4. ECI’s Conduct of 2019 Elections Raises ‘Grave Doubts’ About Its Fairness: Citizens Report
The Wire Staff provide a comprehensive analysis of the report published by the Citizens’ Commission on Elections. The piece does a section-wise analysis of the contents of the report including ‘significant exclusions of disadvantaged group from electoral rolls’, the opaque nature of electoral bonds and the failure of the ECI in ensuring free and fair polling.