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What does the Supreme Court say about the appointment of the Election Commissioner of India?

Nov 24, 2022

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Today we will discuss What does the Supreme Court say about the appointment of the Election Commissioner of India in our today's edition of Current Affairs. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Indian Polity & Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Election commissioner, Article 324, Appointment committee, tenure of election commissioner.

For Mains: GS II- Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Process of appointment and removal of EC, CEC, etc., free and fair elections.   

Context

Recently Supreme Court of India proposed reforming the appointment process of Election Commissioners which has highlighted some pertinent issues about institutions and their autonomy.

Probable question

How far does the present system of appointment of Election Commissioners ensure free and fair elections in India? Comment.  Also, provide suggestions to ensure the autonomy of the Election Commission of India. (15 marks, 250 words).

About the Supreme Court case pertaining to Election Commissioners

  • SC is hearing petitions seeking reforms in the appointment of Election Commissioners, a five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice K M Joseph.
  • The bench said it wanted to know the mechanism that was followed. It asked the government to produce the appointment file.
  • The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has proposed the idea of including the Chief Justice of India in the committee that appoints the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
  • The Bench observed that this would help ensure “neutrality” (in the functioning decisions of the institution) and the selection of a person who “does not allow himself to be bulldozed”.

Also Read: Elections to the Office of the President

Constitutional Provisions Pertaining to Election Commission

  • Article 324-329 of the Indian Constitution deals with elections and provides for a commission to handle these matters.
  • Article 324: Superintendence, direction, and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
  • Article 325: There shall be one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of the Legislature of a State and no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in any such roll or claim to be included in any special electoral roll for any such constituency on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or any of them.
  • Article 326: The elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage.
  • Article 327: Parliament may from time to time by law make provision with respect to all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of the Legislature of a State.
  • Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature
  • Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters(delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies, made or purporting to be made under article 327 or article 328, shall not be called in question in any court).

Also Read: Elections to the Rajya Sabha

  • The Election Commissioner Amendment Act of 1989 changed the commission from being a single-member body to one with multiple members.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners, if any, that the President may occasionally fix make up the Election Commission.
  • There are two Election Commissioners and the CEC on it at the moment.

Appointment & Removal of Commissioners

  • The CEC and election commissioners are appointed by the president on the Council of Ministers' advice.
  • Their fixed term is for six years, or until they reach 65 years old, whichever comes first.
  • They have the same status as Indian Supreme Court (SC) judges, including the same pay and benefits.
  • They can resign at any time or be removed before their term is out.
  • Only through a procedure identical to that used by Parliament to remove an SC judge from the office can the CEC be removed from office.
  • However, the same constitutional provision is silent about the procedure for the removal of the two Election Commissioners. 
  • It only provides that they cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.

Limitations

  • The legal, academic, administrative, and judicial qualifications for Election Commission members have not been outlined in the Constitution.
  • The Constitution does not prohibit the government from appointing the retiring Election Commissioners again.

Conclusion: To guarantee free and fair elections and to support India's democracy, a CEC of TN Sheshan's caliber is needed. Even though they are sporadic, appointments without bias can produce someone who is close to him.

News Source: Indian Express, MEA.gov.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/supreme-court-election-commissioner-arun-goel-appointment-8285549/

https://www.mea.gov.in/Images/pdf1/Part15.pdf

Give your preparation an extra push with this video by Hemant Jha sir which will help you to understand how to effectively read newspapers and books for your UPSC CSE preparation

https://youtu.be/EQ5sOZyFfP0

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