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Formalise Election Commissioner’s appointment through law – Supreme Court tells Centre

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On July 5, 2017, Supreme Court told Central Government that there is a need for Parliament to make law to ensure fair and transparent appointments of Election Commissioners (EC).

More Information about Supreme Court’s Observations in this matter:

Supreme Court raised this matter in backdrop of public interest litigation (PIL) by Anoop Paranwal through lawyer Prashant Bhushan asking for a fair and transparent procedure for EC appointments. The PIL expressed concern that as the appointments of Election Commissioners was made by the President solely on the basis of the advice given by the political-executive at the Centre, there exists an ample room for the ruling party to choose someone whose loyalty is ensured and renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulations and partisanship.

  • The Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Y. Chandrachud pointed out that there is a gap due to the lack of a parliamentary law which transparently spells out the eligibility, criteria required for a person to be an election commissioner.
  • Khehar highlighted that even the selection procedure of the CBI Director is formalised by a written law, but not that of Election Commissioners.
  • The court also asked the government whether it should intervene in the issue to achieve the constitutional objective under Article 324 (2) of the Constitution which provides that the appointments of Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners be made as per the enabling law.
  • Replying for the government, Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar mentioned that short listing of names of suitable persons for appointment as Election Commissioners is done under the aegis of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, who in turn advice the President. Besides it is for the parliament to decide whether there should be a law or not.

Appointment of Election Commissioners – Current Scenario:

Currently, the Prime Minister and his council of ministers decide as to who will be Election Commissioner.

  • On basis of advice given by incumbent Government, the President then appoints the Election Commissioner.
  • As far as appointment of Chief Election Commissioner is concerned, convention of elevating the senior most Election Commissioner is followed.