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Bill proposes lesser salaries for Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners

New 2023 Bill – that aims to repeal the 1991 Act—provides that salary, allowance, and service conditions of CEC and other ECs will be equal to that of Cabinet Secretary

Bill proposes lesser salaries for Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners

Photo for representation. Reuters



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, September 16

The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners will end up getting lesser salaries compared to the present incumbents, if Parliament passes the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 in its special session commencing on Monday.

Contrary to the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 under which the salary of the ECs is be equal to that of a Supreme Court judge, the new 2023 Bill – that aims to repeal the 1991 Act—provides that salary, allowance, and service conditions of the CEC and other ECs will be equal to that of the Cabinet Secretary.

Ending the 73-year-old system of the Government appointing the CEC and ECs, the Supreme Court on March 2 ordered creation of a three-member panel comprising the Prime Minister Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha or leader of largest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India to select them.

In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice KM Joseph (since retired) said the CEC and ECs shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the three-member panel. “This norm will continue to hold good till a law is made by the Parliament,” it had said.

However, while retaining the composition of the Election Commission and procedure for removal of CEC and ECs, the Bill proposes that the CEC and other ECs will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a Selection Committee comprising the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha as member, and a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister as member.

If the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha has not been recognised, the leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha will assume the role, the Bill clarifies.

Introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 10, the Bill also provides for a Search Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary which will prepare a panel of five persons for the consideration of the PM-led Selection Committee. The Search Committee will have two other members—not below the rank of Secretary to the Central Government, having knowledge and experience in matters related to elections.

Interestingly, the Selection Committee may consider candidates outside the panel prepared by the Search Committee.

According to the Bill, those in the rank of Secretary to the Central Government will be eligible to be appointed as CEC and ECs but they must have expertise in managing and conducting elections.

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