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Indian Election Laws: It’s Not That Simple As It Appears

According to our Constitution, India is a sovereign, secular, socialist, and democratic republic. Our democracy hinges on the election of leaders by the citizens of the country. With a large population and differing opinions on how the country must be run, it is necessary to establish a legal framework to ensure that the right representatives are elected to take the reins of this country. Our laws oversee free and fair elections, giving equal rights to all citizens. It is important that elections are held in a manner that allows citizens to vote in a free and fair manner. Furthermore, elections must be held such that citizens can exercise their right to vote according to their will.

How is the Government of India structured?

The structure of the Indian government is based on the British Westminster system of parliament which follows:

  • Head of State: Prime Minister chosen by party members of the elected Parliament
  • Elected Parliament
  • Elected state legislature

On a smaller, grassroot level, the Indian Government also includes:

  • Elected municipalities
  • Panchayats
  • Other local bodies

Pre-requisites As Per the Election Law In India

To conduct free and fair elections for different posts in the country, the three major requisites are:

  • An authority must conduct the elections, who should be free of political interference
  • A set of laws is required to govern the elections. The authority in charge of conducting the elections will hold these laws
  • A redressal mechanism for the resolution of doubts and disputes that arise out of the elections 

Role Of Election Commission In Implementing Election Laws

India has an independent Election Commission in charge of conducting the elections, preparing electoral rolls, and issuing special directions in cases where election laws enacted by the Parliament have inadequate provisions.  

The Election Commission comprises various officers and agents who work during the elections to ensure they run smoothly:

  • Electoral Registration Officers
  • Returning Officers
  • Presiding Officers
  • Candidates
  • Polling Agents
  • Counting Agents

What are the Election Laws?

For elections at different levels and offices, the Election Laws in India framed by different legislatures are to be followed. For example, for the election of the President, Vice-President, and other state legislation houses, the laws can be enacted only by the Parliament of India. State Legislatures draft laws pertaining to elections of municipalities and other local bodies like panchayats. 


Redressal for disputes related to the elections of the President and the Vice-President of India lies is handled by the Supreme Court. For the offices of Parliament and state legislatures, the State High Court is the redressal body with a provision to appeal to the Supreme Court if the plaintiff is unsatisfied. For other local bodies, the lower courts are entrusted with the responsibility to resolve disputes keeping with the laws enacted by the State Government. 

Acts and rules relating to election laws

  • Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952: This Indian Election Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament for the election to the offices of President and Vice-President of India
  • Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules 1974: Set of rules to the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act 1952
  • Representation of the People Act 1950: Concerned with the preparation of electoral rolls and their revisions
  • The Registration of Electors Rules 1960: Provides rules relating to the superintendence of the election’s electoral roll and its updating, along with registration and verification of elector details. Under Section 28 of the Act, all rules relating to the preparation of electoral rolls, their updating and revision fall under this provision. It provides for the registration of eligible electors and the issuance of voter ID cards with the voter’s photograph. It also includes rules on the inclusion of eligible voters, exclusion of ineligible voters and corrections to be made in the card
  • Representation of the People Act 1951: Concerns matters that can arise post elections regarding disputes arising, acts of malpractices, etc. All these disputes must be brought forth in the State High Court of the concerned constituency 
  • Conduct of Elections Rules 1961: Detailed rules framed under Section 169 of the Act by the Central Government and the Election Commission for every stage of the conduct of elections. These include writ notification for conducting elections, filing of nominations, withdrawal of candidates, scrutiny of the nominations, taking the polls, and counting votes. Moreover, the constitution of the Houses based on the results are also categorised under these rules

Election Symbols and the purpose they serve

Election symbols are the face of a political party. This order governs the matters of reservation of election symbols for political parties for both National and State elections. It oversees the allotment of symbols to the various candidates that are standing for elections. This order also helps in the resolution of disputes between splinter groups.

Election code of conduct

Under Article 324 of our Constitution, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has the right to enforce the Model Code of Conduct which ensures elections are free and fair with the participation of every candidate upholding these values. This prevents parties from misusing their office and ensures they do not manipulate the prospects of their or other candidates standing in the elections. 

The Acts and Rules discussed above allow the Election Commission to issue directives to deal with the myriad aspects in the preparation of electoral rolls, their revision, and the actual conduct of elections. For all grievances related to the elections, resolution is to be done under the Representation of the People Acts 1950 and 1951, the Registration of Electors Rules 1960 and Conduct of Elections Rules 1961. Thus, it is these Acts and Rules that form a complete set of rules for matters related to the elections to the State Legislatures and Houses of Parliament.

The ECI is a hard-working body dedicated to increasing the participation of the people in elections. They have even made it easier to register for a Voter ID and have digitised the ballot casting by using EVMs. As a citizen, you must be aware of the basic rules governing our elections to remain informed. Do your bit for the country as well and make sure not to skip voting on polling day. 

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