Enabling capacity development & knowledge creation at Local Self-Government institutions
The Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance strives to emerge as a repository of knowledge, expertise and training for all the stakeholders of the Local Self-Government institutions in Maharashtra and other states in India. It shall emerge as the foremost institute in the country to deepen the democratic ethos amongst its citizens.
Over the past 25 years, following the 73rd & 74th Amendments to the Constitution of India in 1992, Local Self-Government institutes have not been immune to the test of various challenges and concerns established & emerging democracies, around the world and especially India, have faced, in terms of recognition & authorization to function independently, importance towards local needs, & interests, information & knowledge generation, training & capacity developments amongst functionaries and elected representatives, etc.
The State Election Commission, Maharashtra, established in the year 1994, through the aforementioned historic amendments to the Constitution of India, under the aegis created the ‘Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance’ (IDEGG). The IDEGG aims to emerge as the foremost institute in the country for Local Self-Government institutions – enabling the third-tier of democracy in deepening the democratic ethos amongst its citizens, through activities, initiatives and cooperation.
As its role, the IDEGG involves amongst its other operations, promotes research concerning Local Bodies, sharing & exchange of good practices, training & capacity building of election managers, develops strategies for tackling emerging challenges in related domains, working as an extension organization to various National as-well-as International Institutions, policy initiatives, reforms, etc. The institute is entrusted upon to provide support for Local Self-Governments, their elections and State Election Commissions across India with its expertise to facilitate issues of elections and good governance.
In following the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution of India, the IDEGG, as a first of its kind, initiative in India, is driven and committed to bridge gaps existing in knowledge, allowing and facilitating new areas and domains, thereby creating a value-adding impact, in terms of establishing platforms and programmes for participation & interaction amongst stakeholder and policy planning, initiatives & reforms.Order - Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance
The State Election Commission, Maharashtra was established on 26 April 1994, as per the provisions of Article 243-K and 243-ZA of the Constitution of India. It’s mandate:
- Conduct elections in a free, fair & transparent manner
- Provide level playing field to all political parties & candidates
The 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India has given legal sanctity to the Panchayat Raj System. This amendment provide for the establishment of the State Election Commission for conduct of elections to the urban and rural local self-government. This amendment made provision of Article 243-K and 243-ZA wherein State Election Commissions were established.
Salient features of State Election Commissions:
- Constitutional body, Independent of Government
- Same status, powers & authority as of ECI
- Government bound to provide all resources (staff, finance etc.) as per its’ assessment
- Plenary powers to fill vacuous areas - Directions binding on Government
- Can approach the Supreme Court & High Court in Writ of Mandamus
The main objective for 73rd and 74th amendment and making this provision was to create independent status of State Election Commission so that elections are conducted in free and fair, without other intervention.
- Using technology in every aspect of election for the efficient and effective management and monitoring election management
- Research through reputed Institutes/Universities/NGOs
- Established ‘Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance’ (IDEGG), as a wing of State Election Commission, Maharashtra
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Commonwealth Local Government Forum for understanding the Global good practices of engaging various stakeholders
- Effective & innovative co-ordination with various stakeholders such as Universities, CSOs, Corporates, Media etc.
- Use of social media e.g. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc.
- Initiatives towards Youth Empowerment; including exposure visits to Local Bodies by students, compulsory module on ‘Democracy, Elections and Good Governance’, etc.
Through the historic 73rd & 74th Amendments to the Constitution of India, the Local Self-Governments (LSGs), the third tier of Indian Democracy, were provided with their rightful place in the process of Nation Building. These amendments provided for, besides others, (i) Constitutional Status to the Local Self-Government in the country, and (ii) Independent State Election Commission (SEC) in each state for regularly (after every five years) conducting elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Though State Election Commissions have done fairly well in timely conducting the elections which are complex, intimate and fiercely contested, following concerns have emerged regarding LSGs, their elections and SECs.
Challenges & Concerns Areas:
- Lesser importance & insensitiveness of various stakeholders towards the role of Local Self-Governments & State Election Commissions
- Less than optimal devolution of functions, finances & functionaries
- Existence of very little knowledge relating to elections of Urban & Rural Local Bodies
- Serious implementation- related issues e.g. (a.) training of large no. of Returning Officers (approximately 20,000 for Local Self-Governments as against 48 in Parliament and 288 Assembly in Maharashtra), (b.) implementation of Model Code of Conduct in dispersed Gram Panchayats, etc.
In the probable absence of any Organization/Institute working in the field of elections to Local Self-Governments, the Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance (IDEGG), as a wing of State Election Commission, Maharashtra (SECM), was established.
While, the Institute ‘India International Institute of Democracy & Election Management’ (IIIDEM) established by Election Commission of India (ECI) is working for the elections to Parliament & Assembly, the IDEGG, a wing of State Election Commission, Maharashtra, aims to realize the gaps in research, knowledge, training & capacity building, etc. in the elections to LSGs, and to conduct research and knowledge oriented activities.You can read about the Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance, here.
- Address concerns & challenges related to voter apathy in Urban & Rural Local Bodies
- To enhance availability, access & accountability of information at the Local Self-Government institutions
- Creation of infrastructure for equal opportunities and participation in the democratic & electoral process
- Develop a common knowledge repository of good practices at Local Self-Government institutions in India & the democratic world
- Facilitate partnerships and cooperation with domain experts and stakeholders for training and knowledge creation & sharing
- Engage in the research as-well-as academic discourse of Local Self-Government institutions with reference to democracy, elections and good governance
- Facilitate implementation of the initiatives of State Election Commission, Maharashtra
- At regular intervals, evaluate and provide for suitable and sustainable solutions to existing and emerging concerns & challenges in the domain of democracy, elections for good governance
- Organize events and create platforms for holding talks and deliberations on the subjects of democracy, elections for good governance
- Facilitate ideas and dialogues on better election management practices as independent, transparent and accountable partner as-well-as observer
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) London And The Institute for Democracy, Election & Good Governance (IDEGG).
Objective of this MOU is to:
(i) develop collaboratives arrangements & systems for Better Election for Healthier Democracy, and
(ii) create International Forum / platform for continuous exchange of ideas, best practices etc.Click here to Download the CLGF MoU
A two-day National Workshop of senior officers of the various State Election commissions on the subject, “Expectations of Constitution - Role of SECs” was arranged by the State Election Commission, Maharashtra on 26th , 27th and 28th March, 2019 at Lonavala. The Workshop was attended by 4 State Election Commissioners and 19 representatives from 12 State Election Commissions.Read more about the National Workshop (March 2019) of Senior Officers at Lonavala - Download PDF
An International Conference on “Better Elections for Healthier Democracy” was organized on 25th & 26th October 2018 at The Leela, Mumbai by “Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance”, a wing of SEC Maharashtra with the help of following “Knowledge Partners”:
- Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)
- Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)
- Gokhale Institute of Economics &Political Science, Pune (GIPE)
- International IDEA, Mumbai University and Resource and Support Centre for Development (RSCD)
The International Conference saw participation from 17 foreign delegates from various countries including, United States of America, United Kingdom, Sweden, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, etc.; while 32 delegates from across India, including various State Election Commissioners and ex-members of Election Commission of India, participated in this first of its kind conference.Read more about the International Conference 2018 - Download PDF
State Election Commission,Maharashtra, established in 1994, returns more than 2.5 lakh representatives every 5 years in nearly 28,000 local bodies. Data generated during the process of local body elections can be broadly classified in the following 3 categories:
- Information provided by the candidates while submitting nomination papers and affidavits,
- Information about the arrangements made by the Election Officers (e.g. Details of wards, reservation of seats, number of polling stations / counting hall, number of persons deployed for polling / counting / policing, number of vehicles used etc.) and
- Information generated during the process of actual elections (e.g. cases of violation of Model Code of Conduct, progress of polling, re-poll, counting, recounting etc.).
Collection of the data generated during the election (of more than 12 lakh contesting candidates) is extremely important to understand the dynamics of these fiercely contested elections and for devising future strategies. SEC Maharashtra has conducted 4 rounds of elections, since its inception in 1994, for the periods 1994-98, 1999-2003, 2004-2008,2009-2013. Elections for the 5th round (period 2014-2018) are currently being held.
Since data of earlier 4 rounds has been collected primarily through traditional methods pertaining to very few broad parameters (like number of reserved seats, voter turnout, seats won by different political parties etc.), very little analysis is possible. It may however be mentioned that sporadic efforts have been made by SEC and enthusiastic field officers from time to time towards collection of data using modern technology like Excel Sheet, CDs, emails etc.
State Election Commission, Maharashtra initiated the process to collect all the possible data digitally at the time of generation itself from the elections held in 2015.
- The first area in which help of computers and modern technology was taken was to ensure that all the candidates submit computer software generated nomination papers and affidavits only. It is heartening to note that nearly 60 to 70 percent candidates filed their nomination papers and affidavits using software developed by SEC for the elections to 15,000 Gram Panchayati in 2015 and 210 Municipal Councils held between October 2016 and January 2017 in four phases. All the candidates in the above elections could not submit computer generated nomination papers and affidavits due to issue of internet connectivity, untrained man power, lacuna in software etc. However, 100% candidates submitted computer generated nomination papers / affidavits of all the elections held after January 2017 i.e. 25 ZilhaParishads, 283 Panchayat Samitis and 10 Municipal Corporations and nearly 8000 Grampanchayats till today. This data is now digitally available with the SEC for analysis.
- The second area in which the help of computers and modern technology was taken is the collection of data regarding the arrangements etc.. I am happy to mention that this data is available for all the elections held since October 2016.
- The third area in which the data is being collected with the help of computers and modern technology relates to the process of actual elections (e.g. cases of violation of Model Code of Conduct, progress of polling, repoll, counting, recounting etc.)
Research conducted on Local Self-Government elections in Maharashtra include:
India, the largest democracy in the world with three tier structure of Governance, made the historic 73rd and 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India; thereby giving legal sanctity to the Panchayati Raj System. These amendments amongst other things provided for:
- The Constitutional status to all the Local Self-Governments (LSGs)in the country
- Independent State Election Commission under Article 243-K and 243-ZA in each State for conducting elections to all the LSGs regularly in a free, fair and transparent manner
These elections to LSGs consist of Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats in urban areas and ZilhaParishads, Panchayat Samitis, Village Panchayats in rural areas.
In order to commemorate the Silver Jubilee year of the above amendments, a booklet is published containing some of the basic information of all State Election Commissions at one place i.e. No. of LSGs, Seats, Reservation, Direct Elections for Office In-charge, Use of Technology, Computer Software, Funds Availability, Voters List, Innovations by State Election Commissions, etc.
While conducting elections during 2015-18, a need was felt to have information about various LSGs at one place on the lines of District Gazetteers published by the Government prior to Independence. This being a herculean task, it was decided after detailed consultation at various levels to initially collect basic statistical information about all the Municipal Corporations, Zilha Parishads & Municipal Councils and publish the same as separate volumes.
State Election Commission, Maharashtra keeping the above in mind, worked with Divisional Commissioner offices, throughout the state of Maharashtra, to prepare formats for collecting the required information after consulting various Municipal Commissioners and experts. The information in these books primarily pertains to demographic details, composition of Local Body, city infrastructure, development plan and important features of city etc.
These books shall be extremely useful not only to the Election Managers but also to the planners of the Urban and Rural Local Bodies besides researchers, students and stakeholders.
While conducting elections during 2015-18, a need was felt to have information about them (LSGs) at one place on the lines of District Gazetteers published by the Government prior to Independence. This being a herculean task, it was decided after detailed consultation at various levels to initially collect basic statistical information about all the Municipal Corporations, Zilha Parishads & Municipal Councils and publish the same as separate volumes.
State Election Commission, Maharashtra keeping the above in mind, asked the Divisional Commissioner, Pune to prepare formats for collecting the required information after consulting various Divisional Commissioners, Chief Executive Officers of Zilha Parishads and experts.
The information for this book has been provided by all the Chief Executive Officers in the finalised formats and the same has been compiled by the Divisional Commissioner, Pune with the help of all Divisional Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers of Zilha Parishads in the now published edition of this book. The information in this book primarily pertains to demographic details, composition of Local Body, infrastructure, development plan and important features etc
This report gives a detailed view into the fifth round of Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat elections conducted in Maharashtra by SECM.
This report endeavors to document and analyze the data pertaining to the various dynamics of local body elections in urban Maharashtra. Such documentation becomes relevant from a future perspective and helps in creating futuristic and practical electoral policies and reforms.
Established in 1994, through the historic 73rd& 74th Amendments to the Constitution of India in 1992, the State Election Commission, Maharashtra, established the “Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance” (IDEGG), through an executive order, to generate & disseminate knowledge and develop capacities amongst stakeholders towards making the elections to Local Self-Governments better for a healthier democracy.
Thus involve amongst other things, promoting research, sharing of practices, training of election managers, strategies for tackling emerging challenges, working as an extension organization to various International Institutions, etc.
The Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance, established by the State Election Commission, Maharashtra, is a significant step taken in consideration of the challenges and concerns that have emerged, over a period of time, regarding Local Self-Governments, their elections and State Election Commissions across the India.The IDEGG shall strive to work with minimum infrastructure & minimum permanent staff on its pay roll. It shall involve the best persons/ institutions available in the required areas through innovative methods.
The Mumbai Declaration was made on 26 October, 2018, at the 1stInternational Conference on 'Better Elections for Healthier Democracy' for Local Governments; hosted by State Election Commission, Maharashtra at Mumbai.
Local Governments and their elections do not receive the due importance from the various stakeholders of democracy including the National & State governments. There is an urgent need to bring local governments and their elections to the centre stage of the political discourse, if democracy is to flourish in true spirit at the grassroots level.
- Accordingly an International Conference on 'Better Elections for Healthier Democracy' for local governments was organized by the State Election Commission, Maharashtra at Mumbai, on 25th & 26th October, 2018; details of which are given at Annexure I alongwith the list of participants, both International and National at Annexure II.
- Recommendations made by the participants in the conference are given in 2 parts as shown below:
PART A: Relevant to all including the various democratic countries and the International organizations, and
PART B: Relevant primarily to the Indian stakeholders especially the various State Election Commissions.
Recommendations relevant to all including the various democratic countries and the International Organizations
- An international platform be established focusing on local government elections for:
- Continuous exchange of ideas and good practices on various subjects including technology process and practices
- Capacity development (job/operational training, professional development, stakeholder awareness training, peer to peer exchange etc.) For key stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle.
- Assessing the needs of training and exchanging of independent election observers
- Conducting research and new innovation for local government elections.
- Local governments be encouraged to come together to form Associations for asserting themselves and for conducting research & training etc. in all aspects of elections and local governance.
- To Promote, encourage and use the Institute of Democracy & Elections for Good Governance (IDEGG) established by the State Election Commission of Maharashtra, for working on key issues relating to local government elections.
- State Election Commission, Maharashtra to start with and thereafter various Election Authorities shall lead and co-ordinate the above activities by turn.
Recommendations relevant primarily to the Indian stakeholders especially the various State Election Commissions:-
- Governments at national and sub national levels be requested to:
- Devolve funds, functions & functionaries to local governments in a time bound manner
- Create mechanism for training of both prospective & elected representatives especially women and vulnerable sections at the earliest.
- Undertake and implement urgent electoral reforms to cleanse the system of corrupt practices, in particular - debarring candidates with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections - limit the eligibility of a person to maximum 2 terms in a local body - curtail the undue influence of money power and social media
- Ensure adequate and timely financial grant for meeting election expenses by electoral authorities
- Empower SECs to have full control on election cycle from delimitation, reservation, voter list preparation uptopost election settlement of accounts.
- State Election Commissions should
- Use their constitutional powers & try to be fiercely independent
- Fill in vacuous areas wherever possible
- Evolve innovative methods towards authentic and error free electoral rolls;
- Promote voter and citizen education and awareness 4
- have “Societal Conversation” with various stakeholders
- State Election Commissions may consider the following
- Compulsory “Constituency / Ward Development Plan” by all the candidates, giving their vision of development and its’ display in public domain.
- System of yellow/red cards etc. for violations/defaults/misbehavior, etc. by candidates during the period of Model Code of Conduct and its display in public domain.
- Audit of expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties through auditors empanelled with Accountant General.
- System to gather information regarding contributions made by third parties etc.
- Chairmen of All India Association of State Election Commissions shall lead and co-ordinate the above activities.
+91-22-22845900 / +91-22-22845114
State Election Commission
1st Floor, New Administrative Building, Hutatma Rajguru Chowk, Madam Cama Road,
Mumbai- 400032, Maharashtra, India