The Election Commission of India invoked the Article 324 of the Indian Constitution in West Bengal ahead of the final round of Lok Sabha elections on the 19th of May. The power vests “superintendence, direction and control” of the elections to the Election Commission of India.
This goes beyond logistics and it’s an important task to ensure that elections are held ‘free and fair’. The wider interpretation of Article 324 empowers the Election Commission to lay down the policy to decide administrative matters of importance and also adjudicate electoral disputes. Therefore, besides administrative functions, it may be called upon to perform quasi-judicial duties also.
The commission used this article to exercise of this inherent power, when it decided to bar election campaign from the Thursday 10pm, a day earlier than otherwise. Speaking at a press meet on Wednesday the commission clarified that “no person shall convene, hold, attend, and join any public meeting in connection with the election.”
The reason the commission decided to take this grave step after the violence at BJP president Amit Shah’s rally, but also because of the “growing incidents of disruption and violence during the political campaigns/processions in the state.”
Following the announcement West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other Opposition parties launched a full blown attack on the poll watchdog. Mamata at a press conference said, “This is an emergency situation arisen because of the EC decision… It’s not an Election Commission decision, it’s a BJP decision. Modi is afraid of me and afraid of the people of Bengal. Amit Shah held a presser on Tuesday morning and threatened the commission… Is this order a result of that threat?”
Source : Various