Supreme Court on Article 324 of Indian Constitution
Article 324 of the Indian constitution bestows Election Commission with the power and responsibility of superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls and the conduct of, all elections to Parliament and to the Legislature of every State and of elections to the offices of President and Vice-President held under this Constitution.
The parliament has further enacted the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to define and enlarge the powers of the Commission.
Observations made by the Supreme Court
Supreme Court in the case of Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi and Ors (1977) has made the following observations:
- Article 324 operates in areas left unoccupied by legislation. The words superintendence, direction and control as well as conduct of all elections are the broadest terms which are not defined in the constitution.
- Article 324 is a plenary provision vesting the whole responsibility for national and State elections in the ECI and, therefore, the necessary powers to discharge that function is bestowed through Article 324.
- The makers of the constitution had left the scope for the exercise of residuary power by the Commission, in its own right, as a creature of the Constitution, in the infinite variety of situations that may emerge from time to time.
- Article 324 is a comprehensive provision to take care of surprise situations and the powers have to be exercised not mindlessly nor mala fide, nor arbitrarily nor with partiality but in keeping with the guidelines of the rule of law and not stultifying the Presidential notification nor existing legislation.
- The Commissioner cannot defy the law armed by Art. 324. Similarly, his functions are subject to the norms of fairness and he cannot act arbitrarily.
Under the provisions of Article 324, the Election Commission had passed an unprecedented order to curtail the poll campaign in West Bengal.