Panel on EC appointments: SC shows the way, onus on Parliament to make law - The Tribune India

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Panel on EC appointments

SC shows the way, onus on Parliament to make law

Panel on EC appointments

Photo for representation. File photo



IT’s an irony that the world’s biggest democracy, which witnesses an election season practically every year, has no law governing the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners. With such appointments being made by the President on the recommendation of the Central Government, arbitrariness and lack of transparency often put the entire selection exercise under a cloud. Consequently, the conduct of Assembly or parliamentary elections is adversely impacted whenever any top officer of the Election Commission (EC) is accused of partisanship. In a welcome intervention, the Supreme Court has ruled that the appointment of the CEC and his/her deputies will be done by the President on the recommendation of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). Stressing the need to maintain the sanctity of the electoral process, the five-judge Constitution Bench has scathingly remarked that ‘unrelenting abuse’ of this process is the ‘surest way to the grave’ for democracy.

Involving the CJI and the Leader of the Opposition in the appointments is an important step towards ensuring that upright, competent and impartial officers are entrusted with the onerous task of conducting free and fair elections in the country. It is equally vital to ensure that the key posts of CEC and Election Commissioners are not reduced to sinecures for retired bureaucrats with political affiliations. The apex court has made it clear that its directions on the EC appointments will continue to hold good till a law is made by Parliament. Even though Article 324 of the Constitution mentions that these appointments will be made by the President, ‘subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf by Parliament’, our lawmakers have failed to do the needful over the decades. This grave wrong must be corrected at the earliest by enacting a comprehensive legislation.

The committee-based selection procedure should also be extended to other constitutional posts, such as the Comptroller and Auditor General and the UPSC Chairperson. This step can go a long way in making important national institutions truly autonomous and keeping them insulated from political influence.


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