Why has the Election Commission frozen the Shiv Sena’s symbol?

Source: The post is based on the article “Why has the Election Commission frozen the Shiv Sena’s symbol?” published in the Indian Express on 6th October 2022.

What is the News?

Recently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) froze the well-known ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol of the Shiv Sena until the competing claims for recognition by the two rival factions are decided.

How does the ECI decide who gets the symbol?

Before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

According to Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, “When the Commission is satisfied… that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party. The Commission may decide that….one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.” This applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties.

Previous instances: The first case under the 1968 order was the split of the Indian National Congress in 1969.

Read more: Election Commission’s political plunge erodes its role as a neutral watchdog
How does Election Commission resolve symbol disputes?

The ECI usually conduct the test of majority to resolve a symbol dispute. In almost all disputes decided by the EC so far, a clear majority of party delegates/office bearers, MPs and MLAs have supported one of the disputing factions.

Whenever the EC could not test the strength of rival groups based on support within the party organisation, it fell back on testing the majority only among elected MPs and MLAs.

Read more: Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive – bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968
Can the splinter group become a recognised political party/parties?

Prior to 1997, the EC will assess the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol. They will be considered as a recognised party, if they have a substantial presence in some states and satisfied the criteria fixed for recognition of parties under Paras 6 and 7 of the Symbols Order.

In 1997, the EC introduced a new rule under which the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol — had to register itself as a separate party, and could lay claim to national or state party status only on the basis of its performance in the state or central elections after registration.

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