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Rethinking Public Institutions in India$
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Devesh Kapur, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, and Milan Vaishnav

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199474370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199474370.001.0001

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Election Commission of India

Election Commission of India

(p.417) 10 Election Commission of India
Rethinking Public Institutions in India

E. Sridharan

Milan Vaishnav

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the evolution of one of the world’s most powerful elections bodies, the Election Commission of India (ECI). Blessed with a legal status as a permanent, independent body under the Constitution, the ECI has used its broad mandate to develop wide-ranging powers to regulate the conduct and management of elections. A series of skilled leaders have further pushed the agency to undertake consistent organizational and technological innovation. In spite of this progress, the agency has struggled mightily to curb the twin influences of money and “muscle” (serious criminality) in electoral politics. Unless the ECI is given more substantial legal authorities to address these challenges, the credibility of the electoral process will likely suffer. Legal ambiguity also makes the body vulnerable to political interference, although the multi-polar distribution of political power—coupled with widespread popular support and a sympathetic judiciary—mitigate this risk.

Keywords:   elections, voting, parliament, regulatory autonomy, corruption, campaign finance

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