In a first and an unprecedented step, the Election Commission Wednesday banned campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies from 10 pm Thursday night in view of the recent violence in Kolkata in the last 24 hours after BJP and TMC supporters clashed on the streets Tuesday. The poll watchdog also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) and Additional Director General, CID from their postings in West Bengal.
BJP and TMC supporters Tuesday fought pitched battles on the streets of Kolkata during a massive road show by Amit Shah, who escaped unhurt but was forced to cut short the jamboree and had to be escorted to safety by the police.
Parts of the city plunged into a welter of violence as his convoy was attacked with stones by alleged TMC supporters from inside the hostel of Vidyasagar College, triggering a clash between supporters of the two parties.
What is Article 324?
Article 324 in the Indian Constitution gives power to the Election Commission to direct, control, and conduct elections to all Parliament, to the Legislature of every state and of elections to the offices of the President and Vice President held under the Constitution.
Article 324 of the Constitution vests the “superintendence, direction and control of elections” in an Election Commission consisting “of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix”.
What is the nature of the powers of the Election Commission of India?
In Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Commissioner and Others (December 2, 1977), the Supreme Court ruled that “Article 324, on the face of it, vests vast functions in the Commission, which may be powers or duties, essentially administrative, and marginally, even judicative or legislative”. This means the ECI mainly has administrative functions in the preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of elections. The Commission has to exercise its powers and perform its functions under Article 324 in conformity with the provisions of Sections 9 to 11 of The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991. The three Sections apply to all the items of business transacted by the Commission — whether administrative, judicative or legislative.
(with ENS inputs)