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V.BHASKARAN

STATE ELECTION COMMISSIONER

The Kerala State Election Commission came into existence on the 3rd day of December, 1993 as envisaged in Articles 243K and 243ZA of the Constitution of India.  The above Articles provide that the Superintendence, direction and Control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the Conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and Municipalities shall vest in the State Election Commission consisting of the State Election Commissioner.  The State Election Commissioner has the status, salary and allowance of a Judge of a High Court and cannot be removed from office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of a High Court.

 Parts IX and IXA have been added to the Constitution to enable the Panchayats and Municipalities to function as institution of Self-Government  at the grass root level of democracy with certainty and continuity, endowed with such powers and authority for preparing and implementing plans and schemes in respect of matters entrusted to them for economic development and Social Justice.  The Constitution itself has facilitated provision for smooth, free and fair, regular elections to the Local bodies and has, therefore, entrusted the State Election Commission with the responsibility for holding elections in a manner as to inspire credibility and confidence of the general public. 

In the domain of the elections to the local bodies, the State Election Commission functions independently and has same powers and duties as that of the Election Commission of India. 

The first and foremost duty of the State Election Commission is to prepare the elector rolls of Panchayats, Municipalities and Municipal Corporation and conduct their elections. The Election Commissioner is also the Chairmn of the Delimitation Commission.  In addition to the above functions, the State Election Commission has also the following functions.-

(i) Conduct of elections to the offices of the Mayor/Chairman/President/Deputy Mayor/Vice Chairman/Vice President and the no-confidence motion against them.

(ii) Conduct of the Elections to various Standing Committees and their Chairpersons

(iii) Determination of disqualification of elected members/Councillors.

(iv) Determination of disqualification of elected members on the ground of defection.

The basis of fair and free election is a defect free voter’s list and,  therefore, the Commission has decided to introduce photo affixed voter’s lists in all Constituencies of Panchayats and Municipalities including Municipal Corporations in the general Election 2015.  The Commission has also decided to conduct elections to the three-tire Panchayats using multi post Electronic Voting Machines for the first time in Kerala. Another important innovative programme developed by the State Election Commission, for the first time in India, is the introduction of a series of Training Programme on good governance through legal awareness with the full co-operation of the Kerala Institute of Local Administration.  This programme covers the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Secretaries of all local bodies and their Returning Officers.

Kerala has one of the strongest Election Commissions in the Country with multifarious functions to be performed both under the Constitution of India and under the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, the Kerala Municipality Act and the Kerala Local Authorities (Prohibition of Defection) Act, 1999.