fixed duration of municipalities, appointment of State Election Commission, appointment of
      State Finance Commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees. All
      state/union territories administrations have set-up their State Election Commissions and Finance
            Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines the Directive Principles of State Policy lays
      down that the state shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such
      powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
            A new Part IX relating to the panchayats was inserted in the Constitution to provide for
      among other things, Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of panchayats at
      village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in panchayats at the village and
      intermediate level, if any, and to the offices of Chairpersons of panchayats at such levels;
      reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in proportion to their
      population for membership of panchayats and office of Chairpersons in panchayats at each level;
      reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women; fixing tenure of five years for
      panchayats and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of super-session of
      any panchayat.
      Election Commission
            The Election Commission of India (ECI) was constituted in 1950 with its headquarters at
      New Delhi. It is a permanent independent constitutional body vested with the powers and
      responsibility of superintendence, direction and control of the entire process of conduct of
      elections to Parliament and to legislatures of the states and the union territories and elections to
      the offices of President and Vice-President held under the Constitution.
            The Election Commission decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections—both
      general elections and bye-elections. It prepares, maintains and periodically updates the electoral
      rolls, supervises the nomination of candidates, registers political parties, monitors the election
      campaign, including funding and expenditure of candidates. It also facilitates the coverage of the
      election process by the media, carries out the voter education and awareness measures, organizes
      the polling stations/booths where voting takes place, and oversees the counting of votes and the
      declaration of results. It conducts polling through EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and
      recently, on pilot basis, introduced VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail). The Election
      Commission has also provided for compulsory identification at the time of voting by means of
      Electors’ Photo Identity Cards (EPICs) and distribution of photo slip close to polls.
            Elections are conducted according to the constitutional provisions, supplemented by laws
      made by Parliament. The major laws are the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act,
      1952; the Representation of the People Act, 1950; and the Representation of the People Act,
      1951. All political parties are required to get themselves registered with the Election
      Commission. Based on performance criteria laid down in the Elections Symbols (reservation &
      allotment) Order 1968, the Commission grants recognition to political parties as national or state
      parties. It also decides disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognized political parties.
            At the state level, the election work is supervised, subject to overall control of the
      Commission, by the Chief Electoral Officer of the state, who is appointed by the Commission by